Paddle Australia Appoints René Olsen, Kieran Young and Olympic Champion Kenny Wallace to its High Performance Program

Alyssa Bull, Jaime Roberts, Alyce Burnett and Jo Brigden-Jones Australia Womens K4 500mtr Racing the qualification races at the International Canoe Federation World Championships, Szeged, Hungary. Thursday 22 August 2019 © Copyright photo Steve McArthur / Paddle Australia

Paddle Australia begins implementing its new HP Strategic Plan with the Appointment of René Olsen, Kieran Young and Olympic Champion Kenny Wallace to its High Performance Program

Paddle Australia is excited to announce the recent appointment of three high-calibre and internationally renowned professionals to its High Performance Program, including René Olsen in the role of National Centre of Excellence (NCE) Women’s Sprint Kayak CoachKieran Young as Performance Support Manager as well as Olympic Champion Ken Wallace in the role of Queensland Academy of Sport (QAS) Canoe Sprint Head Coach.

The new positions form an essential part of Paddle Australia’s vision and strategy of enhancing its technical leadership and building an even stronger High-Performance program on the road to Tokyo 2020+1, Paris 2024 and beyond.

National Centre of Excellence Women’s Sprint Kayak Coach
René OlsenRené Olsen joins Paddle Australia following his role as Head Coach of British Canoeing’s Olympic Sprint program and prior to that as the Lead Coach of Canoe Racing New Zealand.

A former sprint and marathon canoeist who represented Denmark in World Cups, European and World Championships, René joined British Canoeing in September 2017 after a spell as the lead coach of Canoe Racing New Zealand.

In his new role he will be principally responsible for the women’s K4 towards Tokyo 2020ne as well as working closely with the SIS/SAS coaches in overseeing the Paris 2024 squad of athletes.

He will be working alongside Olympic medallist and NCE Women’s Sprint coach Anna Wood within the newly established centralised NCE sprint kayak program at the Gold Coast.

“We are very excited about Rene joining our team and his experience leading and coaching two quality national sprints programs will be a massive asset to our National Centre of Excellence sprint kayak program.  In particularly, the process he went about establishing and developing the New Zealand women’s K4 prior to the Rio Olympic Games will be of benefit to our women’s sprint kayak program.  I’m looking forward to working closely with Anna and Rene to maximise the coaching support offered to the current and future generation of talented female kayakers,” Paddle Australia National Performance Director Shaun Stephens said about the appointment.

“I’m very excited to be given this amazing opportunity and join Paddle Australia and the High Performance team. Australia has such a strong Olympic canoeing history, and I feel the strategy direction for sprint canoeing Paddle Australia has set out will strengthen the development of both the pathway and the sharp end of the sport,” René Olsen said.

“I’m really looking forward to working with the team and looking at the last years of racing, both nationally and internationally, there is no doubt that there are a lot of hard-working athletes on the team already as well as knocking on the door.  I’m sure that with the talent there and through knowledge sharing, focused and collaborative work, we will have even more collective success and can win medals consistently.”

Due to Olsen’s current employment commitments, as well as immigration and current travel hurdles, his anticipated start date is January 1st, 2021.

Performance Support Manager
Kieran YoungKieran Young joins Paddle Australia in the position of Performance Support Manager within the High-Performance Team.

Young is a highly experienced professional having worked in three different countries and in various senior leadership and management positions over the past ten years.

His extensive professional experience includes working at the Queensland Academy of Sport between 2007 and 2013 where he started as a Senior S&C Coach before becoming the Head of Strength and Conditioning with the QAS.  He then relocated to Canada to become the Head of Strength and Conditioning at the Canadian Sports Institute.

For the past five years, Kieran has worked in Dubai as the Head of Sport Science in the Special Operations Command, where he has led a multidisciplinary team of 20 staff across medicine, strength and conditioning and sport science.

“Kieran’s diverse skill set gained from working across multiple different systems/countries and sports will be a great asset to our team,” Shaun Stephens welcomed Young to the team.

“I’m thrilled about the opportunity to lead Paddle Australia’s performance support team, particularly with the Olympics fast approaching.  I believe this new role will help further Paddle Australia’s status as a world-leading high performance program,” Kieran Young said.

“I have tremendous respect for the work being done by the team and I’m looking forward to collaborating and sharing my experiences with the staff, athletes and stakeholders on how the sport can continue to succeed on the world stage.”

This appointment is one of the key technical leadership positions identified within the High-Performance Strategic Plan, which was launched a couple of months ago – see here:

The role will work across the Sprint, Paracanoe and Slalom programs and will be responsible for leading and managing Paddle Australia’s performance support team as well as making those critical connections with the SIS/SAS performance support teams to ensure greater alignment, consistency and quality of service delivery across the country.

QAS Canoe Sprint Head Coach
Triple Olympian, 2008 Olympic champion and 2016 Olympic bronze medallist Kenny Wallace, who over the past 12 months has been working within Paddle Australia’s current national performance pathway’s coaching team, will be tasked with the role of identifying and developing Queensland’s talented sprint kayak athletes, who demonstrate characteristics of achieving future podium success.

In this important performance pathway’s role Wallace will continue working closely with the National Sprint Pathways lead, David Foureur, as well as the National NCE Coaches, other SIS/SAS Coaches, the QAS, Paddle Queensland, Surf Life Saving Queensland and its clubs and coaches.

“We are very excited to have Kenny continue working within our performance pathway’s program.  Our recently released HP Strategic plan identified the need for an improvement within our talent pipeline as well as a particular need to create a specific program, aligned with the QAS, to identify and develop future talent within Queensland.  Kenny obviously brings a wealth of athlete knowledge and experience to the team and has been a mentor to many of our up and coming sprint kayak athletes.  This opportunity also creates an opportunity for us to assist Kenny’s development and transition between being a highly successful athlete into a world class coach”

Paddle Australia welcomes Renee Olsen, Kieran Young and Kenny Wallace to its High Performance team.

All roles will be based from the NCE Sprint Kayak facility at Pizzey Park at the Gold Coast.