Flat Water Sprint Kayaking by Elizabeth Gray

Hello all, my name is Elizabeth Gray. I’m 16 years old and I’m a  flat water sprint kayaker, who lives in the small village of Dunholme where i currently attend William Farr school which is located in the neighbouring village to me.

For most of you I’m sure you probably wont of even heard of flat water sprint kayaking as it is such a minority sport with people underestimating the difficulty and the long hard hours of training that goes into it, however all you really need to know is the basics. The main idea is to manage to stay up right in a very long, narrow boat and going incredibly fast in a straight line for a set distance; whether that be 200m, 500m or 1000m. liz-gray

I was introduced to this unusual sport by my aunt Julie, who runs the para-canoe team in Newark. For many years she use to get my brother to go over to Newark and help her run session and the odd trip, but to also participate in the sport himself. After many long, painful years of watching him go up and down from the sides of river banks I decided to have ago myself, and within two week of training at the age of 9 i was entered into my first ever race, which just so happened to be the marathon national championships, where I placed 3rd in my K1 (single man crew) and 2nd in k2 (double man crew). After that I was hocked! I just loved the adrenaline from racing and the feeling of accomplishment every time I won something.

During my time at school I typically train between 12-14 times a week whether those sessions being one before school and one to two sessions after school there is always time to fit my training into my everyday life. During summer holiday I potentially train up to 3 times a day, most days a week, which can include land based sessions such as running, gym and mobility (including stretching and stabilising exercises to prevent injury) and on water training.

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My on water training sessions are set by my coach Gary Quittenton who I only get to see once a week, as he is head coach on a program called Girls for Gold which is based in Nottingham. My running session are all set by Anna Mongan who has very kindly volunteered to train us and even though i hate running and sometimes her as well, I’m very grateful for her as I wouldn’t have survived this season with out her. The main reason i am still able to compete this year after my injury early on in the year is all thanks to Patrick Rickets who works at Therapy Room 1 who kindly sponsored me and helped aid my recovery and has now taken over my strength and conditioning program.

After a rocky start to my season with being ill and injured I managed to retain my 1000m K1 national title and coming 3rd in the 500m k1. During the same regatta i managed to get selected for the Junior European championships which where hosted in Bulgaria in July. I competed in the 1000m k1 where i placed 14th over all and in the 500m k1 I also placed 14th over all coming 5th in the B final. This year i also participated in the Belgium nationals where I came 1st in the k1 500m and the k4 500m and placing 2nd in the k2 200m, k2 500m and the k1 5000m.

I have also been selected to compete at the Olympic Hopes in Hungary on the 22nd to the 25th of september.

Kayaking is a really easy sport to get into with many recreational groups taking place globally, however if you are interested in getting involved in flat water sprint kayaking you will have to see what open days there are at you local club and give it ago. it my take sometime to get use to the unstable boats but there are also stable ones swell to get you started in.