For anyone who isn’t familiar with the intricacies of Canoe Slalom, they could easily think Timothy Anderson – who was today named in Australia’s Olympic team to contest the men’s K1 event – is speaking about elements of his sport should he mention in passing the words ‘intarsia,’ ‘leading leg’, ‘row,’ ‘steek, ‘loop,’ or ‘brioche purl’.

But they’d be wrong.

While Anderson (photographed left with Jessica Fox and Tristan Carter) enthusiastically describes canoe slalom as an avenue to showcase his creative bent, the above terms relate to one of the 29 year old’s other interests – knitting! What’s more, he could well be found doing it with one of his favourite songs playing in the background . . . the 1980s hit Slice of Heaven by Kiwi groover Dave Dobbyn.

The 29-year-old New South Wales Institute of Sport scholarship holder, who’ll make his Olympic debut at Paris later this year, insists that one of the greatest gifts he gained from his early school days was being encouraged to draw, sew, knit, and do other crafts.

“In my very early primary school years we did a lot of arts and craft, and knitting was something we did heaps of,” said Anderson, not long after being congratulated on his Olympic selection by the 2024 Australian team’s Chef de Mission, Anna Meares OAM, and celebrated teammate, Jessica Fox, who is regarded as the world’s greatest paddler.

“I still knit and sew. I guess being in a super creative environment where we did arts, crafts and drew rubbed off on me as a person.”

Another lifelong gift Anderson gained from his childhood which included the rough ‘n tumble of playing Aussie Rules and also hockey, came from following the wake of his brother Alastair’s canoe on the Yarra River.

However, he openly admits his first foray into kayaking wouldn’t have inspired anyone to believe he had the makings to one day be selected for an Olympics.

“I remember one of the first times I got in a kayak, nearly 20 years ago, I was paddling backwards at the top of this tiny rapid on the Yarra because I was too scared to go down, a few tears were shed,” he said.

“It’s incredible to be selected for Paris 2024, I’ve worked so hard for this for more than a decade. It’s really exciting to see that all paying off. I’ve put my heart and soul into this . . . you struggle to put it into words . . .  it’s a little bit overwhelming.”

However, Anderson took time out to reveal that he came close to scuttling the dream he fostered as a small boy in country Victoria to one day compete at the Olympic Games after he missed selection for Tokyo. He almost tossed it all in to focus on his double degree in science and biomedical engineering.

“But I just love the sport,” he said after he and Carter were presented with their ceremonial ticket to go to Paris by Meares, who, as a champion cyclist, overcame incredible obstacles – and odds – to become a two-time gold medalist.

“And I found it really hard to leave, and now I’m not going to be retiring anytime soon.”

He does plan to eventually use his degree – he graduated in 2022 – to create human tissue for medical purposes.

“It’s a new, small branch of engineering,” said Anderson. “I found it very interesting when I was learning about it at uni. I had a really good supervisor for my honour’s thesis, and I’m really enthused by all the possibilities and the things I can do.”  

Anderson will have turned 30 when he competes in Paris, and after moving to Sydney to train at Penrith’s Whitewater Stadium as a 19 year old, he believes his experiences – and the many hard yards he’s made – will be an invaluable asset when Olympic medals are on the line.

“I think it helps quite a lot being a mature athlete,” he said. “I’ve had quite a lot of high pressure moments in my career over the last couple of years, including [gaining an Olympic] qualifying quota spot for Australia.

“Performing in the final [of the world championships] was a really big deal for me. I managed to execute on a really high pressure moment. Fifth place at world championships was a big performance . . . my best to date.

“I’m going to use that kind of experience to do something similar in Paris.”

Meares said Anderson and Carter’s selection was the result of iron-willed dedication and decisions.

“So much goes into those 100 seconds flying down the whitewater course – the gym, training, analysis, spending months of the year travelling and competing to hone their craft,” she said.

“All of the dedication and choices Tim and Tristan have made have led them her, to represent Australia at the Paris Olympics.”

Story: Daniel Lane, NSWIS

Photo: Mitchell Soames, NSWIS

Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.