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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