Since june 2010 Matt McKnight, Paul Henry and Shane Harkin have been on the European Continent for a series of training camps and competitions.
Earlier this year all three athletes were accepted into the Irish canoe slalom team, Paul and Shane at under 18 level, and Matt at under 23.
They have all been members of the NI canoe slalom squad since it’s inception in september 2008, after 18 months of slalom specific training they competed at sluice weir for Irish selection.
The European tour
19 hours on a ferry, 10 hours of driving and masses of ham and cheese baguettes got us from Belfast to Foix in the South of France. There Shane and Paul competed in the Junior world championships. unfortunately neither paddler made it past the qualification round; Shane coming 67th and Paul in at 72nd, however as a first international race it provided invaluable experience and was a serious dive into the deep end of high level slalom.
Another 7 hours of driving and many complaints about the music played in the car we arrived in our current destination of Sault-Brenaz for a training camp under the direction of our enthusiastic coaches Han Bijnen and Hanna Craig.
We head off to Augsberg on Friday and then on to Leipzig for the Junior and U23 European Championships; after which we shall return to Ireland to whine about all the rain. We have been in France for 3 weeks and we have come to one conclusion happily articulated by our fellow traveller Tom Burke French Baguette is not as good as Irish French Baguette.
From the tanning,
Matt McKnight, Paul Henry and Shane Harkin