We’re now looking forward to developing our plans [...] across all of our disciplines [...] I’m keen to put all of our athletes right at the heart of what we do and to operate, as I always have done, with transparency and honesty [...]– Paul Ratcliffe
At the 1981 World Championships in Bala, Richard Fox - arguably the most successful and pioneering competition boater the UK has ever produced - went on to win the first of five world titles. Watching from the sidelines was a young Paul Ratcliffe.
Paul went on to win the Junior Pre-World’s in 1991 then a string of senior titles - topped by three medals of his own at World Championships (including a K-1 team Gold), the World Cup title in K-1 slalom in 1998, 1999 and 2000, two European Championships and a Silver at the Sydney Olympics.
Following a long apprenticeship in Slalom coaching, Paul ended up heading British Canoeing's Podium Programme in 2013. Three years on, he can point to extensive success at 2016 World and European U23 Championships as evidence of his system working for a hugely promising new generation.
Paul's appointment at Performance Director comes as no great surprise and is being hailed as good news even within the racing (Sprint and Marathon) community - not least for his assurance that he's "keen to put all of our athletes right at the heart of what we do and to operate, as I always have done, with transparency and honesty" :)
What follows will undoubtedly be monitored with interest across the region, not least because so many Yorkshire Slalom youngsters are involved in National Talent Squads, Regional Squad and the Regional Talent Academy - but also (we trust) by those whose performance goals lie outside of slalom and the more familiar ICF disciplines.
Let's hope this means a British Canoeing Performance Director taking an active interest in the stunning success of Yorkshire athletes Claire O'Hara (Squirt and Freestyle) and Joe Morley (extreme kayak) - and in Wild Water Racing and Canoe Polo.