The 2022 ICF Canoe Freestyle World Championships were held in Nottingham, UK earlier this month, and for the first time, the canoe festival had a Masters event for paddlers aged 40 to 60+.
Three athletes represented Australia in the inaugural Masters competition, with Richard Cass winning a bronze medal in the Men’s 60+ division.
“It was great to attend this inaugural event and bringing home bronze was a bonus,” Cass said.
Having previously represented Australia in the Open division at the Freestyle World Championships, Cass said there were still some nerves for his opening event.
“In the masters first day event on Inlet Gate many of my moves didn’t land straight so I didn’t score well, but enough of them were okay to put me in third place,” he said.
“I was more relaxed in the second event on Troll which went much better where I placed 2nd. ICF ranking rules determined my final overall bronze placing.”
Cass’s teammate Peter Newland narrowly missed out on a medal, placing 4th in the Men’s 60+ division.
Both Cass and Newland agreed the new Master’s event was a fantastic addition to the program that fosters prolonged involvement in the sport.
“The camaraderie between the competitors was amazing. Everyone was supportive, encouraging and inclusive,” Cass said
“It was something wonderful to experience,” added Newland.
“Everyone was egging and cheering each other on but still fiercely competitive. Everyone put their best in, hopefully the masters event will be a permanent fixture going forward.”
Australia’s lone female masters competitor, Kate Dyachuk placed fourth in the 40-49 category, missing out on a medal by the slimmest of margins.
After finishing the two events on equal points with Japan’s Mumu Tani, Dyachuk had to battle it out in a tie break for a spot on the podium, but narrowly missed out.
“The whole event was great,” Dyachuk said, “It allowed me to train on world class features and spend lots of time in my playboat.”
A fun, exciting and adrenaline packed sport, Cass would love to see more athletes have a go at the freestyle discipline.
“I’m taking on a freestyle coaching role back here in Penrith and hoping to introduce more people to the sport,” he said.
“We have access to ex-world champion freestyle paddlers in Australia to assist with coaching of our young athletes.”