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Paul Ratcliffe to step down as Performance Director of British Canoeing

British Canoeing has announced today that Paul Ratcliffe will be stepping down as performance director of the Olympic and Paralympic programmes.

Paul had decided prior to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic & Paralympic Games that after 17 years with British Canoeing he would leave after the completion of the 2020 Paralympic Games, to explore new challenges and opportunities.

Paul has been in the post of performance director since March 2017 and during the last four years has overseen continued medal success across the performance programmes at all levels including:

  • Leading the Olympic programme to deliver its UK Sport targets at Tokyo 2020 of 2 medals and 4 additional finals
  • 37 World and European Championship medals won by the paracanoe team since 2017 in Tokyo Paralympic events
  • 25 slalom and sprint medals won across junior, under 23 & senior World and European Championship competitions in Tokyo Olympic events

Paul has been associated with British Canoeing for over 40 years. After starting paddling with Manchester Canoe Club, Paul competed internationally for over 10 years, moving to the National Water Sports Centre in Nottingham to be part of the British Canoeing set-up.

A hugely successful athlete, Paul is a two-time Olympian who won the silver medal in the men’s K1 Slalom at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games.

Paul won three team and individual medals at the ICF Canoe Slalom World Championships, and was twice men’s K1 European Champion. He was also world number one for four years in a row, winning the World Cup title in men’s K1 in three consecutive seasons between 1998 and 2000.

After retiring as an athlete in 2004 Paul embarked on a pathway into coaching, initially taking on the coaching role within the podium potential programme in canoe slalom, before moving onto the podium staff a few years later.

Paul was part of the staffing team that moved to Lee Valley in 2010 to establish the British Canoeing high performance programme at the newly built Lee Valley White Water Centre, which opened in January 2011.

Paul was instrumental not only in the preparations for the London 2012 Olympic Games but also in working with local clubs and volunteers to ensure a legacy for the sport from the 2012 Olympics and the great new facility.

In 2013, Paul was appointed as head coach of the slalom podium programme. Under his leadership, the slalom team won gold and silver medals at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games and achieved medal success at junior and under 23 level in the World and European Championships as well as laying the foundations for the Tokyo cycle.


Speaking on his decision to step down Paul Ratcliffe said:

“After spending the best part of my life involved in the great sport of canoeing as an athlete, coach and performance director, it is now time to move on to seek new opportunities and challenges.

“There is never a ‘right time’ to leave but with strategies for Paris 2024 already clearly mapped out, it provides the opportunity for the programmes to take the next steps towards Paris and beyond.

“During my journey with British Canoeing I have had some amazing experiences and met some amazing athletes and colleagues. I may be leaving British Canoeing, but I will remain a passionate supporter after over 40 years of involvement in our sport. ”


Professor John Coyne CBE, Chair of British Canoeing said:

“Paul has made a massive contribution to British Canoeing since his first selection as an athlete - through World number one and Olympic medallist to his role as performance director.

I give him my sincere thanks and appreciation and wish him all the very best in whatever direction his future takes him.”


Paul will officially step down as performance director following the completion of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, with the paracanoe events taking place on 2-4 September.