February was certainly an exciting month for all of us at Paddle Australia, one we hope has set the bar high for what will be an exciting year.

This month, it was a pleasure to welcome ICF President Thomas Konietzko, Vice President Lluis Rabeneda and Secretary General Richard Pettit to Australia. The whistle-stop tour began at Penrith, where, after witnessing our athletes training on the course originally built for the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games, the delegation joined us for an exciting announcement from Alister Henskens, NSW Minister for Sport, committing the NSW Government to supporting upgrades to the Penrith Whitewater Stadium ahead of the hosting of the 2025 ICF Canoe Slalom World Championships. CLICK HERE to find out more.

From here, the delegation flew to the Gold Coast, they chatted to our athletes, coaches and support team at our National Centre of Excellence at Pizzey Park before heading to Wyaralong, the proposed venue for the Sprint Canoeing and Rowing for Brisbane 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games. They also inspected alternative venues on the Gold Coast.  

The following day was spent at Redlands, starting with a visit to the site of the planned Birkdale Community Precinct. This exciting initiative will incorporate a whitewater facility, used for wide range activities including hosting the Canoe Slalom competition at Brisbane 2032. The majority of the day was spent in a workshop with key stakeholders discussing the operation and design of the whitewater facility.

The themes running through the visit were around the opportunities for the development of paddling in Australia and the Asia Pacific region, and the importance of sustainability and a tangible legacy from any investment made in the sport. These themes were shared during a meeting with Cindy Hook, newly appointed CEO of Brisbane 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games and members of her team. The delegation was heartened by the collaborative and flexible approach and looks forward to working closely with the Brisbane 2032 Organising Committee. 

Our thanks Thomas, Lluis and Richard for taking the time to visit Australia. We look forward to continuing to work closely together as we countdown to the 2023 ICF Canoe Ocean Racing World Championships, the 2025 ICF Canoe Slalom World Championships in Penrith, Brisbane 2032 and beyond.

It was also fantastic this month to see our Olympic and Paralympic squads in action at the 2023 Canoe Sprint Grand Prix 2 and 2023 Canoe Slalom Australian Open in Penrith. It isn’t often we get to see these two disciplines in action in the one location on the one weekend, and it was great to see so many members of our paddling community and the Penrith community watching all the action.

I’d like to congratulate those athletes selected to our Australian Canoe Sprint and Paracanoe teams following their performances at Grand Prix 2. Later this year, these teams will travel to the 2023 ICF World Championships in Duisburg, Germany, where they will have the chance to qualify the first quota spots for the Paris 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games. Certainly, an exciting time, and special mention must go to National Performance Director Kim Crane and her team for all the work they continue to put into not only developing and supporting the world’s best paddlers, but some of the world’s best people too.

Back at home, the domestic events season is in full swing, with Canoe Marathon, Canoe Ocean Racing, Canoe Wildwater, Stand Up Paddling and Canoe Polo Championships all on the horizon. CLICK HERE to find out more about how you can get involved.

As we look ahead to March, it is set to be another busy month. We are encouraging as many clubs and members as possible across the country to get involved with Clean Up Australia Day. In recent years, Paddle NSW has led the charge, and Paddle Australia would love to see participation in very state across Australia this year (CLICK HERE to find out more).

Until next month, and always, stay safe on our waterways.

Yours in paddling,

Phil Jones

Previous articleFox confident funding boost will guarantee Olympic legacy