20 Jan 2009

The future of competitive canoeing in Wales is looking very promising indeed with new facilities and sporting successes for several Welsh competitors this year.

2008 brought great news for the sport. On the facilities side canoeing was delighted to receive the announcement that Cardiff’s International Sports Village would be getting the UK’s first Olympic Standard Artificial White Water Centre. This state of the art centre will be completed in early 2010.

This excellent announcement was closely followed by the news that Ceri Winter and Zoe Anthony from Wales played as part of the GB Ladies Canoe Polo team that took gold in the World Championships in Edmonton. If this was not enough good news, then it is worth noting that their coach was Elan Winter from Aberfan Canoe Club. At the same tournament, 17 year old Luke Morris from Aberfan Canoe Club scored in the U21 Men’s Final to secure victory and gold for GB.

Today Wales wakes up to find that it has another gold medallist, this time courtesy of slalom canoeing. Seventeen-year-old Rhys Davies from Bala, Gwynedd together with his paddling partner Matt Lister from Leeds took gold in the C2 Boat class for GB at the Australian Youth Olympics Festival.

"This is a feat in itself, however, when you consider that the pair have been training together for less than a year it’s even more remarkable," said Richard Harvey Chief Executive Officer of Canoe Wales. "We have great hopes for this pairing and this builds on the success that they have had in European events in the summer."

Cheered on by British Olympic silver medallists Campbell Walsh and David Florence, the pair never looked like coming away with anything less than victory. They ended up winning by a considerable margin, 15 seconds faster than the Australians in silver. New Zealand took the bronze.

A proud Lister said, "It was amazing. We just pushed it through and kept it going. It wasn’t as clean as it could’ve been, but it was quick. I’m really pleased as this is my first international medal. Rhys and I are definitely looking towards London 2012, but first we’ve got the Junior European Championships next year."

Davies, who started paddling at Bala canoe club under the guidance of Welsh National Coach Richard Lee, added, "It was great to see all the British supporters following us around the course. Our semi-final run was actually better than the final, but we did enough to secure victory in the final."

Phil Blain, Chair of Canoe Wales said, "this is testament to the hard work put in by Rhys and Matt. We must also congratulate their coaches who have brought the best out of them at the right time. We have great hopes for competitive canoeing in Wales and justifiably so. We look forward to reporting on even more success in the future."