Canoeing continues to grow in Asia

The International Canoe Federation’s Talent Identification Program camp in Thailand this month was great news for the sport of canoeing on several fronts.

Not only did it introduce another crop of exciting young paddlers from emerging canoeing countries to the sport, but it also showcased a success story of an athlete who has progressed through the program herself to now be in a position to run her own camps.

Taiwan’s Sherry Chen, once a student of the TIP initiative, has progressed to become an instructor, helping shape the next generation of paddlers from the Asian region.

She was a trainee at last year’s ICF Canoe Slalom World Championships, and has progressed quickly to the role of instructor.

“Sherry is a great success story for us,” ICF TIP co-ordinator, Pierrick Gosselin, said.

“Not only has she developed into a very fine athlete, she is also now giving back to the TIP. We call it ‘return the favour’ because we hope everyone who comes through the program will, in some way, give back to the development of the sport.”

Athletes from Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and Macau took part in last week’s TIP camp in Thailand, with the athletes then competing in the South East Asian Championships and the Thai Open on the weekend.

Gosselin was pleased that the group included several who were returning after first being introduced to slalom in 2017.

“There was a small group of first-time athletes, but importantly for us, several who were coming back for a second time,” he said.

“This is very encouraging for us. It means we are providing a program which the athletes are enjoying, and also can see a long term benefit.

“We have already seen several TIP graduates compete at the Olympic and World Championship level, and that is a fantastic incentive for these young athletes.”

In a further strong sign, several Indonesian athletes competed at the weekend Championships, a good indication of how seriously that country will take its hosting of this year’s South East Asian Games.

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