Noah Havard was a chance at playing rugby league for a living, until his physiotherapist delivered some crushing news. He would require a shoulder reconstruction due to recurring dislocation.
“I thought I was out of sport after that,” Havard said.
At the time, Havard was a member of the Sydney Roosters Rugby League Development Squad and it was difficult for him to walk away from a sport that he’d grown up playing. In the end, the shoulder injury made the decision for him.
Havard’s desire to keep participating in sport was strong. At the time, his brother was doing surf ski paddling with some friends and he thought he’d give it a go. Noah quickly found a new sporting love in Surf Life Saving and when Olympic champion Ken Wallace tapped him on the shoulder, it opened his eyes to Sprint Kayaking.
He quickly progressed through the ranks, moved from his home town of Bondi to the Gold Coast where he joined the Queensland Academy of Sport in 2022 and represented Australia at the ICF Canoe Sprint World Championships, World Cups, and Junior and U23 World Championships in the same year, winning a bronze medal as part of the U23 Men’s K4 500.
Havard says the hard work and competitive mindset that he developed at Surf Life Saving has helped him to become the athlete he is today.
“Kenny opened my eyes and showed me that it was possible to come across from surf ski to kayaking” Havard said.
Another role model, Olympian Jim Walker has been instrumental in making him the athlete he is today.
“Jim showed me the ropes, he’s one of the toughest guys I know,” Havard said. “He taught me how to be tough and I’ve learnt a lot of good things from him, how to be a good athlete and how to be respectful of everyone else,” he said.
Havard has come into his own and is now a contender for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, having recently been announced on the Canoe Sprint national team for the 2023 season.
Hear more about Noah’s paddling journey.