The next generation of Australia’s up and coming Olympic canoe sprint athletes has kicked off the Paris 2024 Olympiad with the first competition of the new year taking place at Sydney International Regatta Centre last weekend for the 2021 Paddle NSW Canoe Sprint Championships (16-17 January 2021).
While Paddle Australia’s Tokyo 2020 canoe sprint team is already selected and preparing at the Gold Coast, all eyes were set on those NSW based paddlers, who are aiming for the next Olympic Games in Paris 2024.
Nine athletes from the NSW Institute of Sport are included in the ‘Paris 24’ squad, a quality group of young developing canoe sprint athletes which underpins the current selected Tokyo Olympic Games Team.
The initiative targets those athletes who have been identified as being in the pool to represent Australia at the 2024 Games.
The ‘Paris 24’ Paddle Australia initiative was launched last year with the support of the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) and is designed for the ‘next generation’ of athletes with the aim to identify and support prospective Paris 2024 (and beyond) canoe sprint athletes, who have not been selected for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
Recognising the need to provide other development opportunities, the Paris 24 project creates opportunities that are designed to motivate, drive, upskill and fast track these athletes during the ongoing uncertain times, providing them with a goal to work towards over the next 12 months (and beyond) and to expose them to high levels of training with the aim of assisting their transition into the Senior Team.
Paddle Australia’s National Performance Pathway Lead – Canoe Sprint, David Foureur, explained.
“The NSW State Champs provided a great opportunity for more that 50% of our Paris 2024 group of athletes to race and they were very much looking forward to line up again.
“There was some high-quality racing and we saw a number of the Paris 24 group really step up to a new level.
“Our Tokyo Olympic team may already be selected but for this group the weekend was the first major step in the Paris 2024 journey,”
Amongst the athletes who impressed on the weekend were Kailey Harlen and Ella Beere who just missed out on the Tokyo 2020 selection last year and are aiming for the Paris 2024 Games in three years’ time. Both train as part of the New South Wales Institute of Sport squad at Narrabeen Lake.
“NSW State Champs is always a great way to start the season and I was very happy with my performance on the weekend” said Kailey Harlen.
Harlen won the women’s K1 500m as well as the K2 500m together with Ella Beere.
“It has allowed me to pinpoint areas that I need to work on. We were all extremely happy with how we raced the K4 500m and we put together a very good time.”
“It is wonderful to paddle with such a great group of girls who are all so focused on working as a team.”
2020/21 Paris 24 Squad
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Pierre Van der Westhuyzen