I think the decision to aim for the Olympic qualifiers was never really made but was always with me since my early days in a boat. I can't explain it, it's just the way it is; to compete at my best at the highest level. So, around September 2008 I made a decision to do something about it; to concentrate all my efforts into slalom training for the next while with the only aim being "to be able to look back and say I did my best"

This blog is the story of my journey

Summer 2010 roadtrip

I will be competing in three World Cup Races, Czech Republic, Spain and Germany. After five weeks is the Pre Worlds in Slovakia, with the Slovak open the following week.

Depending on my results at the World Cups I also hope to qualify for the World Championships in Slovenia.

Having never competed at this level before, it's going to be a steep learning curve, but thats what I'm here for.

20 February 2010

19 Feb 2010

Received my new Galasport boats this week. I decided to buy two; 1 Diolen for training and 1 Carbon for the bigger races. Big thanks to Colm and I-CANOE.
Now, due to a recurring injury, I have four to six weeks off the water training. Then six weeks starting on flat water and building up to moving water with gates. After that I can start training again.

12 February 2010

Some training at home December 2009

Training at my local 'slalom course' on the Boyne

Week 6

With one win still needed, I stay in HPP for five more days training before another Div 1 double next weekend.

18th July Washburn - Fast first run with one touch, could make a small improvement on time and can go clean. First place so far. With wanting the third win and wanting to go home a day earlier, I put as much pressure on myself as possible and paddle as hard and fast as I can. Managing to clear the gate I touched in the first run I touch another trying to make a faster line, just over one second faster at the end and still in first place.

I get on the road later that evening heading for the 2am ferry home delighted to have achieved one of my goals for the year. I am now a Premier Division paddler. I arrive at Holyhead early and spend the three hours dancing non-stop in a niteclub, happy with my achievements and to be going home.

Week 5 Holme Pierrepont Nottingham

On my second trip to HPP I find the water much easier than the last time. I train here for four days with some different paddlers including the welsh and their coaches again before a Div One double at the weekend.

11th July - Race One: First run was slow with two touches, finishing second. I watched some video after and picked out where I could make some improvements. I was very happy with my second run which was clean and much faster. My second win, leaving one more needed for promotion - hopefully tomorrow!

12th July - Race Two: My first run was clean but seemed slow on the top section with some minor mistakes on the bottom. I went out too hard and fast on the second run giving me a much faster time but getting tired towards the end I made some mistakes, taking two touches leaving me in second place.

Life on the Road

I had been having some trouble for the last few days in France, with limited english from some french mechanics and no french from me, we figured out it was the starter motor.

Half way between Dover and Nottingnam after just filling with diesel, it refused to start.

Luckily I was in the AA and I was back on the road the following
morning after a night in a hotel was arranged by the friendly
AA man.

European Road Trip June - July 2009

The Plan: leave home for over six weeks for one Class C Internation Race, three World Cup Races, training on five differenct courses and to finish off, two Div 1 races in the UK.

Week 1 - strange feeling as I'm leaving not knowing what's really ahead but really excited about doing something I have always wanted to do.

Arrive in Foix, French Pyrennes in time for four days training before the race. I find it tough going as the water is much faster and stronger than anything I have trained on before. As the training went on I felt I was improving both technique and confidence but as usual training on my own I find myself setting courses that are either too easy or too hard.

Race runs - missed two gates in both runs, finishing second last out of 42 paddlers.

Week 2 - training in Bourg St Maurice, French Alps.

Apparently one of the toughest courses to paddle on and you can see why when you are on the water, just like creeking, you can't see over the horizon line on some of the drops. With back loops, missing eddies-never mind gates, getting stuck in stoppers and plenty of rolling, some of the added obstacles. I paddle most days with Yann, one of the clubs instructors who happened to be a C1 slalom paddler. Yann and everyone else I met on or near the river were all very friendly offering tips and advise on paddling, helping me repair my boat and also dinner on a few occassions. Everyone I met over there is welcome to come and stay here sometime.

On day 12 of the trip I got some bad news from the Irish Canoe Union - the selection committee has decided I can not compete in the World Cup Series but only Class C races, I would have no problem with this if I had not already been given the go ahead for these races. With no Class C races on anywhere during my time away - what now?? "C'est le jeu"

With some advice I decide to stay on in Bourg for over two weeks more training. It was mainly survival paddling in Bourg as the water levels started rising. Technique sessions on the nearby Moutiers stadium, one trip to a course in Yenne and a few days easier paddling in L'Argentiere where I met some paddlers from home and got a chance to run one of the local rivers. I also got the chance to enter a regional race, normally only open to local paddlers - on hearing of my situation I was entered as a guest, meaning not ranked, and competed with a mix of paddlers from different divisions. With some familiar faces from my trip so far I have never had so much support at a race. With two clean runs I was happy to finish in the middle of the group.

2nd and 3rd May 2009

Irish Squad Selection, Nottingham.

After training here for a few days I try my best but my injury is really holding me back. My best run of the weekend was slow and messey, my worst sees me missing one gate and rolling past three more.

26th April 2009

Second Div One race, Tryweryn Ski Slope Section.

Joined in with some of the Welsh paddlers and their coach for a few days which was very productive but I am not paddling at my best. A week ago, while hanging lines for gates I fell out of a tree, it didn't hurt at the time but now it's starting to affect my paddling.

Race runs - one of the fastest times but with penalities including a missed gate (50 seconds) I finish at the bottom of the list, the injury affecting my paddling and lack of concentration from this
both working against me.


22nd March 2009

First race counting towards ranking for the year - Tryweryn Graveyard Section.

I made the decision not to take any practice runs as there are no practice runs at the bigger races. So i picked my lines and watched a few paddlers, then I headed away from the river to get focused on my own. First run - clean, flat out and nearly dieing on the finish line, just the way the coach says it should be, could make up a bit of time 1-2 seconds in the next run but very happy with my performance. Even happier when i looked at the times, starting at the bottom of the list as usual and seeing my name at the top.

Second run - improved some of my lines, one touch near the end and pushed hard on the last three gates, 2 seconds faster but the penality cancelled that out given me the same time again.

Winter '08-'09

Each week I would be aiming to do; three gym sessions for strength and aerobic fitness, loads of flat water training including basic paddling techniques and posture in the boat and four paddling sessions on gates, with coaching tips and advice from some old and some newer faces. When I first started training on the Boyne the S bend was almost impassible, once or twice a week I would head down early, do my session, spend the day clearing trees and hanging gates, and then do my second session.

25th October 2008

I headed back to Wales LLangollen, this time for the British Open. High water levels made a tough section in the middle of the course - loved it! Very happy with a clean first run, again a bit slow and again finishing 18th out of 20. Then I noticed some of the officials at the end of the course weighing boats before you could it back up for the second run. i put my boat on the scales and was told it was under weight - all new to me but i had to be disqualified. Everyone was very good about it and I was allowed to race again with my times being recorded but entered at the bottom of the list. A faster second run but with one touch still (would have) put me in 18th place. Just over 28 seconds off first place this time but with much stronger paddlers, must remember to add weight to the boat before the next race.

27 September 2008

With little or no real slalom experience (or boat), I set off for Bala, Wales. I had arranged to get ranked into one of the divisions in the UK, everyone over there has been very friendly and helpful.

1 practice run in a demo boat, plenty of tips from some new and an old friend helped me to 18th place in just over 20 paddlers in Division 1. Similar times in both runs , with two penalties (two seconds each) in both runs I was very happy just to have made it through all of the gates. 30 sec behind first place meant I was slow but I was very happy knowing I could improve.

Looking back now, it would have been very easy just to say its going to be too much hard work to get to where I want to be (Premier Division), being so far off the pace at the bottom of the division 1.