NSWIS News

Locked and loaded

Posted on December 13, 2011 by

November was a solid month of training for me, with a couple of club races, the state champs and a week of extra intense whitewater training making it particularly valuable. The smaller races this month have provided me with an opportunity to carry over my racing skills from the international races into the domestic season here in Australia. The smaller water at the course where the state champs were held in northern NSW meant that competitors had to test their physical limits, ensuring that a high pace was maintained throughout the race. When I returned from Europe this year I brought a new boat back with me, called an ‘Alius’ by MS Composite. Since then I have been perfecting my ‘fit out’, that is the Kevlar seat, the footrests and bits of foam that help to make all the solid bits more comfy. I used carbon fiber and resin to stick the seat in and ground it back with an electric grinder to make it the right shape for me. Now that I have finally finished this process I am noticing some improvements in the connection between my body, the boat and the water; an important aspect of my sport. For some reason, despite it being nearly summer, the thermometer informed me that it was 18 degrees on the way to training yesterday. This is not such a bad temperature for slalom kayaking; it’s after the recovery ice bath at the end of the session that I really wished the sun would shine! All the rain that we have been getting is usually a kayaker’s dream because it means that all the natural waterways are running at a level high enough to paddle. I like to go ‘creeking’, which involves paddling a plastic kayak down creeks that are much more dangerous than your average slalom course. Normally I would say that this provides a great opportunity to hone my reactions and my ability to understand the water, but this close to Olympic selection I’ve decided it is safer to stay at home and away from potential shoulder injuries. We finished off the month with a ‘whitewater week’. This is an intensive block of training where we binge on white water and are provided with individual consultations in the fields of sports psychology, skill acquisition, physiology, recovery, nutrition, physiotherapy and massage. After every training session we watch video of ourselves paddling taken from the bank and discuss with our coaches where we were paddling like gold medal winners and what areas need some improvements. If we were rolling in money this is what our training would consist of every week, but normally we can’t afford so much time on the whitewater – it costs a lot to run the whitewater stadium at Penrith. Nevertheless, this block of training has set me on the right track for some positive improvements in the lead up to our national championships in January. I’d like to leave you with a little quote from one of my favourite authors: ‘Be yourself, everyone else is already taken.’ – Oscar Wilde Cheers! Ros

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Time’s a tickin

Posted on December 13, 2011 by

The past month has flown by, packed with training, the NSW state championships, the NSWIS Awards Dinner and a new job. Since September I have been in a block of largely fitness and strength training. My training program is quite varied and includes fitness and technique sessions on whitewater, aerobic sessions on flat water (sometimes in a sprint boat which is a new challenge), paddling in the surf (I managed to give myself a cut and swollen nose and two black eyes on one occasion), gym (I’m working on being able to do chin ups with an extra 30kg strapped around my waist), running, swimming, and sometimes some yoga and indoor climbing. I’m really enjoying the variety, the challenges and the improvements I am making. We still do some racing through this block, and the NSW state championships were held on November 5-6 at the Nymboida Canoe Centre, a stronghold of canoe slalom in NSW prior to the Penrith Whitewater Stadium being built, and a place of many great memories for me. As a teenager I spent many weekends at Nymboida, it’s a three and a half hour drive from my home town of Old Bonalbo, training, competing and developing my whitewater and racing skills, as well as body boarding and swimming down the rapids and making friends that will last a lifetime. Unfortunately over the last decade this great facility has become less suitable for high level training and racing due to problems with the power station upstream. Burst pipes and turbine problems have meant that the power station cannot operate at its former capacity, which means shallow rapids less than ideal for slalom paddlers. We are hopeful that repairs will continue and the Nymboida Canoe Centre will return to its former glory (and more renewable energy could then be generated into the bargain – I mean, the power station already exists, it makes sense to use it right?). But back to the state champs. Despite shallow water, NSWIS coach Yann Le Pennec set an interesting and challenging course, and a race is a race, no matter where you are or what the conditions. Day one saw me in the lead ahead of my sister Ros by 0.8 seconds. Unfortunately that was just a lead-in race for the state champs the following day, where Ros pipped me at the post by just 0.56 seconds. But close racing is good racing. It pushes you to look for where you can gain every fraction of a second. And it may be fractions of a second that decides who goes to the Olympics. I then took the opportunity to spend a couple of days at home in Old Bonalbo visiting my parents. I generally only get home a couple of times a year, but I always find it very peaceful and refreshing when I do. November 17 was the annual NSWIS Awards Dinner. As we spend most of our time in wet paddling gear or smelly gym gear, it’s always a nice opportunity to dress up and enjoy good food and the inspiring achievements of our fellow NSWIS athletes. Canoe slalom had a few finalists for awards (Sydney Olympic Park Program of the Year; Jess Fox for the Australian College of Physical Education Academic Excellence – General  and Out & About Marketing and Media Junior Athlete of the Year; and Ros for Samsung Electronics Australia Female Athlete of the Year) so we had a good crew attending the event to support them. Finally for this month, my new job. I am now being employed by Flourish Arts in Birchgrove on a very flexible basis to design and make beaded jewellery to be sold in the gallery. While this is a very different path from my longer term career plan of working in the ecology field, it is a great combination of a hobby that I enjoy, a bit of extra income and the flexibility I need to work around my training schedule. It’s a fantastic workplace and a lovely little gallery. Come and check it out! Until next time, Kate

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The journey begins

Posted on December 13, 2011 by

November 7 2011. The date the Olympic squad was to be announced. This date for many of us would determine what we would do, where we would live and what life held for us in the next six to eight months. For me, this was case. I’m a fringe player. I wouldn’t have put my bets on it going either way. I could only hope. And that is what I did. The previous month had been jam packed with games. Our final chance to impress. As I mentioned in my last blog I had been selected to play in two test series throughout October. The first being a four test series vs India held in Mandurah and Rockingham, just south of Perth. The second being a six test series vs China of which a squad of about 40 played between two and four games. Both series I found a bit of form. Against India I got my first opportunity to dragflick on a PC and to my delight I scored. One from one, can’t complain. Although my 100% record didn’t last long I did manage to score one or two others over the the next few games. We ended up winning the four test series. Between this series and the China series was the Lanco International Super Series that I mentioned last blog. I wasn’t involved in these games but it was exciting all the same. The style of game suited the men much more than the women. As much as I hate to say it, it was much more exciting watching the men rather than the women. But I suppose this can’t really be helped when naturally they are fitter, faster and more skilful, so with a combination of these it was bound to be more exciting. My Dad actually came to Perth to visit me during this series. I hadn’t seen him since April/May so it was really nice to actually spend some time with him rather than the usual Skype conversations. Sadly he had to return to Sydney for work just as I left for Busselton to play in my last two games for 2011. These were my last two games to prove I was worthy of a spot in the 2012 Olympic Squad. Actually my last game was probably the best I had had in a while so I felt satisfied that I was going out on a good note and whatever was to be, would be. So come November 7 I was in Yallingup, south west of Perth, beach side with one of my best friends when the email came through. And this time my name was on the list. The 2012 Olympic squad list. Relief. Excitement. All of the above emotions. But really more than anything I was just glad that I knew what I would be doing in a few weeks time. I, of course, had thought about a plan B if I hadn’t made it, but not in any detail, so to have a plan in place was a very good feeling. We are now all back in training. We have been given a few weeks away from the hockey scene to come home and do our physical training ourselves before we all return to Perth at the end of the month to really get our London 2012 campaign underway. The next six to eight months will be physically, mentally and emotionally challenging as ever before. But bring it on I say. Can’t wait. I look forward to blogging now that I am actually on the road to London. ’There’s no time like the present’ Hurtzx

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The road to London with Rosalyn Lawrence

Posted on December 13, 2011 by

Hi! My name is Rosalyn Lawrence, but people call me Roz. I compete in canoe slalom (you know that sport where people paddle little carbon kayaks down whitewater rapids?) and I want to compete at the Olympic games in London, 2012. Big deal, so does every other athlete! I’m searching for that something extra, that different approach that will take me from being a dreamer to a doer. This year I spent four months in Europe as part of the Australian senior canoe slalom team. I guess that makes me a lucky person, it’s a long way from the farm in Old Bonalbo where I grew up. While I was away I had a few successes, including becoming world cup champion in the women’s C1, world champion in the women’s C1 down river (wild water) sprint and world champion in women’s C1 team event with Leanne Guinea and Jessica Fox. But what was most important was the race experience I gained, and the things I learned in training that will help me fifteen weeks from now, when it comes to Olympic selection in February 2012. Unfortunately my sport is one of the most gender inequitable in the whole games, and while there is the possibility for four Australian men to go to the Olympics, there is only one place for women. Amongst other talented kayakers, I will have to fight my sister Kate for this coveted position. At the moment I am back in Penrith where I live in order to train at the whitewater stadium built for the 2000 Olympics. Penrith is like a mecca for international slalom paddlers, as we have one of the most ideal training environments in the world. Soon competitors will be arriving en masse to take advantage of our sun and water for the summer, and to compete in the upcoming Australian Open and Oceania Championships. Luckily for me I enjoy training, which usually involves a mixture of white water, flat water, gym and running. Every day I try to think of new ways to make myself faster and mentally stronger. I am working closely with my coach Mike Druce to tune up my technique and fitness. After paddling my previous boat for two seasons I have just converted to a new type, which I like more and more every time I paddle it. 2012, bring it on! Roz

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The road to London with Kate Lawrence

Posted on December 13, 2011 by

My name is Kate Lawrence, my sport is canoe slalom. Strangely, it is often confused with rowing by friendly and well-meaning acquaintances as they kindly enquire, ‘how is your rowing going?’ Let me explain, rowers go backwards in a straight line on flat water; slalom canoeists and kayakers go forwards down whitewater rapids while also negotiating their way through a series of ‘gates’, each comprising two poles a minimum of 1.2m apart hanging above the water. It’s a very exciting, dynamic and challenging sport, which I have been involved in since I was a kid growing up on a farm in the tiny community of Old Bonalbo in northern NSW. When I finished high school I moved to Emu Plains so I could train at the Penrith Whitewater Stadium and pursue elite level success. That was back in 2002, and I have been here ever since – training, studying and working in various combinations. I could probably write all day about how I got into the sport, the places it has taken me, the experiences it has given me, the ups and downs, successes and failures, and the things that I have learnt over the last ten years or so. But this is supposed to be an approximately 300 word blog – and the point of it is that the countdown to the 2012 Olympic Games is on.  It is my goal to be representing Australia at the London Olympics next year, and to win a medal (preferably gold!). Women’s kayak (K1W) is the only canoe slalom class for women at the Olympics, and each country can only possibly qualify one representative to go to the Games in each of the four classes. That’s right – three classes for men, only one for women. Don’t get me started on that – there’s at least a whole essay in it. Let’s just say that’s the way it has been for a long time. We’re hoping it will change for 2016, but for now that’s the way it is… So there is only one spot up for grabs for an Australian woman on the 2012 Olympic canoe slalom team. Olympic selection for us is in February, and there are multiple contenders for that one spot, including myself and my younger sister Ros. Four years ago I narrowly missed out on earning the spot for Beijing to my older sister Jacqui, who went on to win a silver medal. You could say that this sport is a bit of a family affair! The sibling rivalry is fierce but friendly – although Jacqui has now retired from the sport so she is officially on cheer squad duty. Selection in February will be tight, I have no doubt about that – but these are exciting times, and I am looking forward to those races. I’m training hard and I’m enjoying continually improving and working towards my goal. So to summarise: one spot up for grabs for a female Australian canoe slalom athlete to go to the Olympics next year. I want it. Bring it on I say!  Kate

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Playing the waiting game

Posted on December 13, 2011 by

Following on from my last blog, I was awaiting selection into one of the two teams heading to Melbourne to play in a series of selection games, before heading to Hobart for the Oceania Cup the following week. I was successful in being selected in the ‘green’ team to play in Melbourne. It isn’t often we get to tour domestically, let alone to Melbourne. Just quietly l was pretty excited. Although I’m a Sydney girl I have a heap of friends and family in Melbourne so I was also looking forward to catching up with them when and if we got the chance. Not to mention it was AFL grand final week in Melbourne. There’s nothing like finals fever, the place was bound to be buzzing. On a serious note, the selection trials in Melbourne involved two intrasquad trial games and a third game against some Victorian Institute of Sport boys. Following the third game the Oceania Cup team was to be announced. This was to be done at 10:30pm via text. By text? Yes. By text! There is no nice way to find out about teams but this has got to be one of the tougher ways to find out. Not only the fact that, to me, a text shows no concern or feedback but more so the fact that being roomed with two other girls that will also receive the text and the possibility of one making it and the other not makes it a very difficult situation, for everyone, in or not in. But I suppose… that is sport, and a situation you just have to deal with when and if it comes around. Unfortunately, I was one of those not selected to go to Hobart. Disappointing yes, but truthfully I didn’t play my best and as a result I couldn’t have expected to make it. Each and everyone of us are in the same situation vying for our spot in the team and a poor game can cost you your spot. A good system will reward those who play well and those that don’t, like myself, need to take it on the chin, move on and make the most of our next opportunity. And in saying that, my next opportunity comes sooner than expected. As I said I wasn’t selected to play against New Zealand in Hobart last week but I was selected to play in a home series against India and as part of a broader squad to play against China in another home series in Perth at the end of the month. These selections and non selections just further concretes the importance of consistency for me, something I do at times struggle with. I believe consistency is a combination of experience and confidence. Experience comes with time and exposure and confidence comes with experience. Both of which require patience and persistence, these being two of my best qualities means my time will come. Putting aside all the selection talk, I would like to introduce to you to a new innovative and exciting brand of hockey that is making an international debut in Perth this month. It is called the Lanco International Super series or Hockey 9s and is being held in conjunction with the timing of CHOGM (Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting) from the 20th-23rd October. This brand of hockey has been developed to attract more viewers to the sport. As we have seen with cricket and the introduction of the 20/20 game, people are attracted to short, fast and high scoring, games. So having less players on the standard size field, larger goals and position specific rules will hopefully see an exciting, high scoring game be played. This along with increased media coverage and live free to air coverage on ABC will bring more viewers and interest to the sport. Both the Hockeyroos and the Kookaburras will play against India, Malaysia, Pakistan and NZ over the 4 days. So if you get the chance tune into ABC from the 20th-23rd October and check how this new style of hockey unfolds. Well that concludes another update from me. With plenty of games to be played throughout October and Olympic squad selections in November, my next blog will be jammed with news. Exciting yet nerve racking stuff! ’Patience, persistence and perspiration make an unbeatable combination for success.’ Napoleon Hill. Hurtzx

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The road to London with Jo Brigden-Jones

Posted on December 13, 2011 by

My 2011 season was filled with ups and downs but ended on a big high at the world championships in Hungary. At the end of last year I was unsure how the year would pan out as I had to have shoulder surgery. In 2010, three days before the start of the world championships I injured my shoulder during my last training session. I tried to race but had to pull out of the competition, which was so disappointing. I was out of the boat for five months, did countless hours of rehab in the gym and had lots of training sessions on the spin bike. I only started doing training sessions in the kayak in February and had to squeeze a year’s worth of training into six months. But by the time this year’s world championships came around, I felt I was ready to race. The worlds were held in Szeged, Hungary and was a very important regatta as the team had to qualify boats to be able to compete at the Olympics next year. Kayaking is one of Hungary’s national sports, so the competition drew crowds into the thousands. It was an incredible atmosphere as they had the music pumping right up until the last 30 seconds before each race. Then, as soon as the race got going the crowds went wild blowing horns, banging drums and cheering. It created a fun and exciting environment for the close and competitive racing between 93 countries. My main focus of the regatta was the K4 (four person kayak) 500m Olympic event which included Rachel Lovell (QLD), Hannah Davis (SA) and Lyndsie Fogarty (QLD). We had to place in the top 10 to qualify the boat for the Olympics. The crew had only been together since early July so we were unsure of how we would perform against the other nations. We worked and gelled well together over five weeks at our training camp in Varese, Italy and turned up confident of paddling well during the races. We had a good race in the heat and then raced the semi-final and finished third to make it through to the ‘A’ final, which ensured us of a top 10 finish. The four of us were so happy and relieved to make the final and secure four positions for Australia for next year. The final was the next day and we went into it relaxed but hungry for a good result. In the final we placed fifth which we were thrilled about, as we were only just behind the dominant countries of Hungary, Germany, Belarus and Great Britain. It makes a big difference the more time you spend training together as a crew. We can see so much potential and many improvements that we can make before the Olympics as we were such a new crew, and our fifth place puts us in a good position to chase a medal. In 2007 the Australian crew placed sixth at world champs and then went on to win a bronze medal at the Beijing Olympics. That crew contained Hannah and Lyndsie so it’s great to have that experience in the boat. I also raced in the K2 200m with Hannah, however as we were focusing on the K4 it left limited training sessions for us to work together in the K2. The boat moved well in those three training sessions and we knew if we got it right in the race we would be competitive. It was a close race, the pace was on and we managed to win the bronze medal! It was so exciting to be standing on the dais in front of those crazy Hungarian fans. It was also special as it was the first world championship medal for both of us. The final race of the week was the K1 4 x 200m relay which was lots of fun. Our team placed fifth, and it was a great way to finish off an amazing week! After the world champs I went to Portugal to race at the Nelo Summer Challenge, a surf and ocean ski event that was loads of fun. I then went to London to compete at the Olympic test event held on the Eton Dorney course which is the venue for the kayaking and rowing events next year. It was great to get a feel for the area and to get used to the conditions paddling on the course. On the way home I stopped in Hong Kong and Macau for a short holiday with my dad and sister. At the moment I am trying to find a job as a Registered Nurse. I completed my degree at the beginning of the year but haven’t had a chance to do any nursing work as I was away so much. I will have a few weeks off training but will be doing a bit of surf ski paddling for fun and to keep a bit of fitness up. I am really looking forward to this season and getting stuck into some hard training without having to worry about my shoulder, however I still need to qualify myself on to the Olympic team, with selections in March.

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The road to London with Emily Hurtz

Posted on December 8, 2011 by

Let me set the scene. My name is Emily Hurtz. I am 21. Originally from Camden, NSW but made the east to west coast switch to Perth, WA in 2009 in pursuit of my passion, my goal, my dream. And what is that you ask? Well that would be to represent our country, and win gold, at the London 2012 Olympic Games as a member of the Australian women’s hockey team, the ‘Hockeyroos’. I have been a part of the national team for the past three years. Like most athletes I have had my ups and downs. My up being the more recent 2010 Commonwealth Games in India where we, the Hockeyroos, won gold and defeated NZ in a classic Trans-Tasman final. My down being dislocating my shoulder twice in our third game vs South Africa at the 2010 Commonwealth Games, ruling me out for the rest of the tournament and requiring a shoulder reconstruction on my return to Perth. So now nearly 12 months post operation and 11 months (not counting at all) pre London, things are sailing along faster than anyone could imagine. What we do each and every day now counts in the present but even more so it will count when we receive that phone call, email or alike that will either give you a ticket to London or not. So where are we at in terms of our lead up? We are still a good two months out until our final Olympic squad is announced. At the moment there are approximately 50 odd girls in contention. The stakes are high. Unlike individual sports, it isn’t just a case of ensuring you qualify by running a particular time or jumping a particular distance, no, we are constantly judged in everything we do, a concept some people find hard to comprehend. We are currently in the middle of a national camp in Perth. The majority of girls in contention for the Olympic Squad are here. Split into three teams, we play each team twice, giving ourselves four very good opportunites to show what we can do as a team, as well as individually. With a new head coach, Adam Commens, on board and a range of new speciality coaches we are all out to impress and prove we have what it takes. Outside of the hockey world, the real world, I am busy studying. I am in third year Nursing at Curtin University. I am currently behind a couple of placement subjects as it is ridiculously difficult and stressful trying to fit four weeks of shift work into and around our training schedule. So for the time being (and as much as it frustrates me to delay it) I am doing as many theory type subjects as I can until I have the suitable time that isn’t going to jeopardise my training. So this semester I have two bioscience subjects, my favourite type of subject. It gives me a good outlet outside of hockey, keeps me balanced. So this completes the first edition of my blog. The next few months are as busy as they get so my next write with be full of juicy hockey gossip… look out! I hope these blogs help share some inside into my journey towards selection to London 2012. Exciting times.  I’m a quotes girl so each blog I’ll leave you with a quote that I live by and a reflection of my thoughts. ’Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.’ Mahatma Gandhi Hurtzx

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Kookaburras unbeaten in Auckland

Posted on December 8, 2011 by

The Australian Kookaburras, featuring three NSWIS hockey players, have made the perfect start to the 2011 Champions Trophy with wins over Spain and Great Britain.

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Bright start for Lincoln-Smith

Posted on December 8, 2011 by

From the Olympic Winter Institute of Australia:

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