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SportsTalk: Inspiring the next Generation

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

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I was lucky enough to be at the Rio Olympics and share in the magic of Luuka Jones winning her silver medal, the first ever for canoe slalom in NZ.

Bay of Plenty’s Mike Dawson also had a top 10 finish, both outstanding results for our sport.

Luuka still has a hand written story from her days at Otumoetai Intermediate, documenting her dream to win an Olympic medal. Through sheer determination, sacrifice and hard work she has realised that dream and is now inspiring the next generation of young paddlers.

Post Olympics, Canoe Slalom BOP staged the inaugural canoeing event in the AIMS Games and Luuka was on hand to hang out with the young athletes and give lots of encouragement and support. The modified slalom, based on the Youth Olympic Games format on flat water, was a huge success with overall winners being from four different North Island schools. Again AIMS Games was an amazing event and an opportunity for intermediate aged children to experience this level of competition over so many different sports.

AIMS Games is now firmly on the canoe slalom national calendar as an essential part of our community sport programme, providing opportunity at the grassroots end of the sport and encouraging future champions.

Another key component is the Allcomers Training Camp held every December in Kawerau. The refurbishment of the old rugby clubrooms right at the river, provides a great base for the three-day camp where paddlers of all levels are catered for. The Tarawera River is an ideal venue as it provides a mix of slow moving water right up to challenging white water rapids. Paddlers are divided into small groups based on experience and ability and over the three days learn a variety of canoeing skills. CSBOP Club coaches Pierre Labarelle and Katerina Macova will lead the team of coaches and from past experience at the end of the three days everyone’s skill level will increase significantly.

Summer is our busy season and training is gearing up towards the national races in January and then NZ Secondary Schools and Nationals in early April in Kawerau. The older paddlers in the region are dusting off their gear and are in training for the World Masters Games to be held at the Vector Wero Whitewater Centre in Manukau in late April next year.

We welcome our newest club coach Pierre Labarelle - a world championship medallist from France, who joins our team in running the training programmes in Tauranga and on the Kaituna River near Rotorua.

For information on Canoe Slalom in the Bay click here.

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