Dual Olympian Lucien Delfour can’t remember a time when he wasn’t paddling. But having started the sport at such a young age, Delfour said he couldn’t have dreamed about where he’d end up.
“I first started paddling when I was eight, so quite a few years ago now. My dad got me into the sport, and I’ve been paddling ever since,” Delfour said.
“I started quite young, but we actually used to race quite a bit. It takes quite a while to build up the confidence, and even just the will to train to take your paddling to the next level.
“When I turned 14, I was doing down river, Slalom and flatwater as well. That’s when I had to choose which discipline I wanted to start focusing on, and I wasn’t sure at the time but eventually I chose Slalom and that’s what has led me to where I am today,” he said.
The French born Australian quickly found himself in high performance programs, and taking his paddling to the next level. Delfour said it’s those early days that helped shape him into the paddler he is today.
“The first two years I had in the French junior program were very important, I learned a lot,” Delfour said.
“I had a coach that was quite strict and I learned a lot about sport, but also the discipline you needed to succeed, and how to structure your life around training and school. Those two years really helped me, and shaped me for the rest of my career.
“I first came to Australia in 2007 for the Youth Olympic Festival, and I just loved it. I was only 17, and it was my first time overseas, and it was just mind blowing. I then made the move to Australia in 2010, when I got my permanent visa,” he said.
While Delfour admits he was in awe on his first visit to Penrith’s Whitewater Course, 16 years later it’s still his favourite place to paddle in the world.
“I also really loved the course, and to this day Penrith is still my favourite course. For me it’s unbeatable – it’s not perfect, but it’s a marvel,” Delfour said.
“The course is so much fun to paddle, and to think it was built over 20 years ago is crazy,” he said.
Now in his 14th season representing Australia on the international circuit, Delfour is in Paris preparing for the 2023 ICF Canoe Slalom World Cup Final. The event will be a great test for Delfour, who currently sits in sixth on the overall men’s kayak standings, but he says it will still be as special as the first time he got to wear the Australian uniform.
“There’s a strong sense of pride every time I get to represent Australia, and you have to be humble about it,” Delfour said.
“Not everyone gets to do it, but also you have to understand the responsibilities that come with it.
“Even though I’ve been on the team for 14 years now, every year there are new experiences and every year is exciting,” he said.
Delfour is one of eight Australian paddlers that will compete at the 2023 ICF Canoe Slalom World Cup Final at Paris’ Vaires-Sur-Marne from 4-8 October 2023.
Finals will be available for Aussie fans to watch through Kayo Sports
To find out more about the event – click here