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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