One third of the canoe sprint athletes selected to the Australian Olympic Team for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics are from New South Wales.
Athletes Jo Brigden-Jones, Murray Stewart, Lachlan Tame and Riley Fitzsimmons were recently named by the Australian Olympic Committee as joining the Aussie team.
It’s testament to the strength of the sport in the state, which is spear-headed by the NSW Institute of Sport program based out of Narrabeen.
NSWIS Canoe Sprint Head Coach Jake Michael is passionate about ensuring his sport has access to the best facilities and support, and is delighted to see four athletes from NSW named to represent Australia.
“What a fantastic achievement and I’m proud of everything that these guys, and the rest of the NSWIS team, have done over the last four years to get to this point” said Michael.
“With the recent postponement of the Games to 2021 we now have lots to review and plan.
“Lots of sweat and tears, lots of early mornings and late nights, lots of highs and lows. But for now it’s time to lay low and stay home”
It’s not just at Olympic-level that New South Wales is representing strongly; half of the recent U23 Australian team named by Paddle Australia is made up of NSWIS athletes. A large number of young NSW athletes are also featuring in junior and Asia Pacific teams.
As to the current impact on the sport, Jake Michael is understanding of what it means for training and competition.
“Now we have had some time to adjust most of the athletes that I have talked to have expressed a common understanding that while it’s tough to take, it’s the right decision.
“The health and safety of all athletes, support staff, spectators and officials is the number one concern. The added decision from the AOC that team members will remain until the Games, has also provided some clarity and reassurance to those athletes who have qualified.
“Now its time to knuckle down for a year and have a common focus and goal.”