Young Talent

Connor competes at British Open slalom at Lee Valley
January 31, 2014
By Connor Lenihan
I started kayaking at the Herts Young Mariners Base in Cheshunt when I was 9 and in February this year I began slalom training at the Lee Valley White Water Centre run by GB Canoe-ing. At first it was really hard to paddle on white water and I capsized a lot but after learning how to roll my boat back up I became a lot more confident and gradually began to improve and was then asked to join the Regional Southern Talent Academy.

The competition season began in March (2013) and I was competing in Division 4 at first but I soon worked my way through the divisions and finished the season in Division 1 last November. My last race of the season was at the British Open held at Lee Valley, it was very daunting to be competing against World Champions, Olympic medallists and top internationals but a great experience. I gained a good result on the Saturday and an even better one in the semi final on Sunday morning, but in the final I just wasn't able to challenge the much more experienced competitors. It was an amazing opportunity to take part in such a high calibre race and I know with all my training over the winter I'll be able to improve on my performance next time.

I have been to competitions all over the country including travelling to Wales and Scotland. Living in the south of the country we don't have any natural white water so to compete we have to do a lot of travelling but I have made some good friends and we always have a good laugh when we're away together.

At the White Water Centre I started training sessions twice a week on the Legacy course and then some flat water sessions on the lake. I now train on the Olympic course alongside some of the Great Britain team who are based at Lee Valley. It's really inspirational to be on the water with some of the top competitors in the world, Dave Florence and Richard Hounslow are the current World Champions and Olympic silver medalists in the Men's C2. All the GB team are very encouraging and often come along to coach us. Our head coach is Shaun Pearce, he was part of the Beijing 2008 and London 2012 Olympic coaching squad and is a former World Champion himself. Twice a week I do some core fitness training sessions with both Shaun and Marc Domenjo, a former member of the Spanish Slalom Team and World Cup Winner.

I have now progressed to the England Southern Super Regional Squad, I will be training all through the winter and am looking forward to using the new gym facilities that GB Canoeing have just opened. It's my target to win medals at both an Olympic and World Championships but first I have to concentrate on reaching the Premier Division, that's my next goal.