With strong currents to contend with, unpredictable whitewater and gates and rocks to dodge, slalom canoe competitors have to muster lightning fast reflexes, balance, strength and agility to compete in this demanding sport.
Introduced in 2001, the AIS canoe slalom scholarship program set out to build on the successes of the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games. Becoming a National Centre of Excellence in 2005, the combination of the AIS, Australian Canoeing and the NSW Institute of Sport strived to achieve medal winning performance and international success for its athletes.
Aiming to fast track athletes with the potential for high performance, the program, based at the Penrith Whitewater Stadium, is an intensive opportunity for those with the necessary toughness of mind and body required for this thrilling sport. By providing athletes with top of the range facilities, infrastructure and support as well as the highest level of coaching expertise, competition opportunities and international training options keep athletes performing at their best.
With an international, annual World Cup series and a world championship in non Olympic years, the sport made its debut at the 1972 Munich Olympics, but wasn’t seen again until 1992. Making their way down a 300-400m whitewater river course, athletes must find their way through a series of 18-25 ‘gates’ which test their skills. Combined with rocks, fast moving water and a race against the clock, competitors must make it through every gate or face a deduction of 50 seconds from their final time. Two seconds are deducted for touching a gate, which means that the reaction times required for this highly demanding sport must be finely honed. Competing in four events in the Olympics and World Cup championships, men must take on the Canadian singles and doubles, and the kayak singles, and women pit themselves against the water in the kayak singles.