Paddle Australia Confirms Future Strategic Priorities on the Road to Continued International Success

The Paddle Australia Board have confirmed important strategic priorities to support its performance objectives at the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games, to take place in 2021, as well as through to Paris 2024 and beyond, following a comprehensive strategic planning process.

The confirmation of the strategic plan coincides with the commitment of the Federal Government over the weekend to invest in high-performance sport as well as into Paddle Australia High-Performance facilities, a decision which was warmly welcomed by Paddle Australia on Sunday. See media release here:  https://paddle.org.au/2020/06/14/paddle-australia-welcomes-federal-government-investment-in-high-performance-sport/

Paddle Australia began its strategic planning process late last year with the engagement of highly respected high-performance sport consultant Mike McGovern.

McGovern conducted a comprehensive consultation process with the view of identifying important strategic and operation practices that, if implemented, Paddle Australia would benefit from to ensure continual international success in the three Olympic and Paralympic disciplines Canoe Slalom, Canoe Sprint and Paracanoe.

The postponement of the Olympic and Paralympic Games for 12 months, provides an opportunity for some of these strategies to be implemented immediately, whilst others will be put on hold until after Tokyo 202one to minimise disruption to current plans.

National Performance Director Shaun Stephens confirmed, “whilst we need to keep our eyes firmly fixed on the new date for the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games, we must also continue to plan for continued success in Paris and beyond”.

“By implementing some of these changes now, we assist our objectives in Tokyo 2021 but importantly, this will provide us with good momentum into the shortened 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Cycle.”

“In regards to the recent funding announcements Stephens added, “The announcement comes at an ideal time for the confirmation of our high-performance strategic plan to ensure our teams remain internationally competitive through Tokyo 202one, Paris 2024 and beyond.

“We welcome the funding commitment, which will ensure that current funding levels can be maintained as our athletes and coaches continue their preparations for the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games.”

Jessica Fox - 2020 AUS Open - Photo Col Boyd

The canoe slalom and paracanoe programs continue to achieve great success on the international stage and Paddle Australia will continue to develop strategies and initiatives towards ensuring continual improvement in those two disciplines.

Canoe sprint has not performed to its potential in recent years and will benefit from some strategic shifts to be implemented over the next 18 months to ensure continued success.

One of the five strategic priorities identified across all three Olympic/Paralympic disciplines is an Improvement in the Talent Pipeline.  Initiatives relating to improvements in the performance pathways need to start as soon as possible and some exciting new programs are currently being developed.

Other key strategies identified within the plan include:

Deliver quality performance driven and athlete focussed daily training environments.  This will require a shift in the national sprint kayak program towards a fully centralised National Centre of Excellence.

Identified senior athletes will benefit from high quality coaching and service delivery, whilst increased attention towards the provision of a holistic athlete wellbeing support program will be prioritised.

The canoe slalom and paracanoe programs will also benefit from increased performance driven initiatives under this strategy.

Enhanced technical and system leadership.  Paddle Australia intends to enhance technical and system leadership that is anchored by two National Centre of Excellence models (Sprint and Slalom) that leads, delivers and promotes collaborative behaviours.

It is envisaged that two new leadership roles will be recruited including a Canoe Sprint Technical Lead (post Tokyo 2021), as well as a Performance Support Lead.

The final two strategic priorities will influence how the programs operate and include:

Encourage performance behaviours with resources targeted towards success at the Olympic/Paralympic Games.  This important strategy emphasises the importance of having clear roles and responsibilities, accountabilities and purposeful collaboration across the system.  It also highlights the importance of maintaining high performance standards and targeting resources towards those programs, athletes and crews who have the greatest probability of success.

Promote innovation, excellence and learning in all that we do.  This strategy is particularly important to stress the need for continual improvement.  This requires athletes, coaches and support staff to be open-minded to trial and embrace new ideas to ensure we are constantly moving forward.

McGrath - 2019 World Champs - Photo Bence Vekassy

Curtis McGrath – 2019 World Champs – Photo Bence Vekassy

Paddle Australia has a great history of success at the Olympic and Paralympic level. Nevertheless, international competitiveness is constantly improving, and these strategies will ensure that Australia maximises its potential across all three of the Olympic and Paralympic disciplines.

Australian canoe/kayakers have medalled at every Olympic Games since 1980 and have so far won three gold, eight silver and13 bronze medals across canoe slalom and canoe sprint at the Olympic level.  At the last Olympic Games in Rio 2016, Paddle Australia’s paddlers won two bronze medals (one in canoe slalom and one in canoe sprint), while Australia’s Paralympic paddlers brought home one gold, one silver and one bronze medal at the inaugural paracanoe events.

Australia’s Tokyo 2020 Olympic canoe slalom and canoe sprint teams have already been selected by the Australian Olympic Committee with the final canoe slalom team announced in February and the canoe sprint team in March.

Olympic canoe sprint team announcement: https://www.olympics.com.au/news/canoe-sprint-paddlers-confirmed-for-tokyo-olympics/

Olympic canoe slalom team announcements:
– https://www.olympics.com.au/news/canoe-slalom-champion-jess-fox-named-to-tokyo-2020-australian-olympic-team/
– https://www.olympics.com.au/news/from-wilderness-to-worlds-biggest-stage-for-olympic-canoeists/