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Super September - The British Open – 16 & 17 September

This September, join British Canoeing at the Lee Valley White Water Centre for a weekend full of Rafting, Slalom and Canoeing at the British Open. 

Slalom Rafting1

Watch as Premier Division and Division 2 slalom paddlers compete to become the ultimate British Open Champion. Athletes demonstrate immense speed and skill in both racing and freestyle competitions, whilst Boater-X participants compete against each other in a battle against time.

Saturday 16 and Sunday 17 September, Lee Valley White Water Centre will be hosting its annual British Open. As one of the most prominent canoe slalom events of the year, this family-friendly event is definitely one to attend.

Not only will you get the opportunity to watch some incredible sporting events, you will also get the chance to try out some paddling for yourself. The event will host a selection of ‘have a go’ sessions, including White Water Rafting and Canoeing. So if you’ve always wanted to try paddling in a stress-free and fun environment, come and give it a try.

If that isn’t enough encouragement, we’ll also be hosting some all-important meet and greets with some of your favourite slalom athletes. Olympic Champion Joe Clarke and three time Olympic silver medallist David Florence will be around signing autographs and taking photographs, as well as U23 World Champion Mallory Franklin and current European Champion Kimberley Woods.

Those hoping to attend do not need to pre-book, nor do they need to purchase tickets. Simply come on down to the waterside for a great weekend full of both competitive paddling and lots of fun.

So what is canoe slalom?

Canoe Slalom is truly dynamic sport that sees athletes take on some of nature’s most challenging white water. The athletes are in amongst the elements as they battle through the challenging rapids, demonstrating immense skill and physical strength.

Paddlers have to negotiate their way down a 300m white water rapid, racing through a series of up to 25 gates made up of red and green poles. The coloured poles determine the direction that the paddlers must past through gates.

Paddlers have to race as fast as they can through the course of gates whilst battling with the challenging white water rapids of waves, stoppers and eddies to accomplish the quickest time.

Paddlers are awarded time penalties of two seconds if they touch a gate and 50 seconds if they miss a gate altogether, which is added to their running time. The combined score of time and penalties determines the finish order.

Interview with Slalom athlete Chris Bowers…

It has been somewhat of a breakthrough year for Chris Bowers, after being called up to the senior squad at just 18 years old. The call up for Chris meant his year's targets had to change slightly. On his first senior European Championships, Chris made the final and finished 14th overall. We caught up with the young slalom athlete to see how he's adapted to the senior team.

You’ve recently broken through the ranks and into the senior Championships, how important is that for someone at your age?

“It was a big shock to me being called into the senior squad, the last person to do it at my ages was Richard Fox at 18, which is obviously a big act to try and follow, but I hope I can crack on and go about my business to try and emulate a good season."

What are now your targets for the next four years?

“Looking a month ago, I probably wouldn’t have thought 2020 was that great a shot, it was more of an outside thought. However now it looks a more realistic goal to try and go for. I suppose that is the four year target, to try and go to the Olympics ideally. But I suppose along the way it is to learn as much as I can about each course and where I am going. Hopefully I can bring some medals in along the way, which would be ideal."

What is the end goal?

“The end goal for me is obviously Olympic Champion. However to get to that goal there is obviously loads of smaller goals. Winning medals is one of those big goals, but another one would be to improve myself as a paddler; technically, physically and mentally. If I can reach them three then I will be extremely happy."

What advice would you give to an up and coming athlete looking to have the breakthrough you have had recently?

“If I was to give to some advice to someone who was in a similar situation as me, I would say appreciate everything you’ve got, and use that to the best of your abilities. "

How have you settled in with the new squad?

“I feel like I have settled in well, I have started in a new training group being trained by Gaz Wilson and new training partner Fiona Pennie, which is a lot of experience that I have got behind me to bounce off which was nice coming into the season. I will be able to use that to the best of my abilities."

The British Open is being held 16 & 17 September at Lee Valley. With so much going on, it is an event not to be missed.