The 2023 ICF Canoe Freestyle World Championships have come to a close in Columbus, USA, after a six day program saw four Australian paddlers gain valuable event experience against a world class field.
Father and son duo Peter and Jack Newland competed alongside Geelong local Fynn Mcleod in the Men’s Kayak Surface, with international debutant Gabriel Rodriguez competing in the junior division.
Team captain Jack Newland finished first in heat one of six, narrowly missing out on a spot in the quarter finals.
“It’s always a special feeling representing Australia and seeing all my friends from around the world in the one place having fun,” said Newland.
“What I love about Freestyle is the fact that it’s not just a high level competition, it’s the creativity of a paddlers mind expressed in their actions and movements on a river.
“My goals are to always do my best and come away a better paddler, and I’ll keep paddling, having fun and getting stronger and better moving forwards.”
Long term paddler and supporter of the kayaking community, Peter Newland led the charge in preparation for the event, housing the team of paddlers and establishing a team camp prior to the event.
For the veteran athlete, the competition was all about experience and enjoyment for the younger paddlers.
“My goal was to support the team and my son Jack in his paddling and have fun along the way, and the feature was everything and more than I expected,” Newland said.
As the youngest member of the team, Rodriguez was fortunate to make the age entry, turning 15 just prior to the competition. He also had the honour of being the Australian team flag bearer for the opening ceremony.
“It was extremely special representing my country on the world stage,” Rodriguez said.
“It was the biggest wave many of us have ever paddled. I have only paddled on holes which are a different trick set so learning this wave and new tricks was exciting.
“My goal is to continue to compete in freestyle for Australia. This experience has been exciting and I want to podium at the next world champs in 2025,” he said.
Similarly, this event was also Mcleod’s first appearance at a World Championships, with the up and coming paddler thrilled to achieve his goal of scoring a 100 point ride, finishing with a confident 148.33 in his heat.
For full results from the 2023 ICF Canoe Freestyle World Championships – click here.