Canoeing has always been used as an ancient form of transportation, however competitive and recreational canoeing only really began in the 19th century. Despite being added to the Olympic line-up in in 1936, engagement in the sport at elite level is still relatively low.  

In an effort to boost engagement and form more elite pathways in this fast-paced sport, the School Games is giving the UKs top young canoeists the chance to compete at the iconic multi-sport event. Canoeists will use the impressive Kayakpro Compact ergometer for their competitions, embracing modern technology much like cycling did at the 2017 edition of the Games.

One person who knows the thrill of the canoe is 24 year old GB international Amy Turner, who specialises in the sprint event.

Despite only first picking up a paddle in 2011, she has already made waves in the sport, taking fifth place in the first round of 2017 World Cup and ninth place at the 2017 World Championships.

We had a chat with Amy to find out more about her journey into the upper echelons of British Canoeing.

How did you get into canoeing?

My first taste of canoeing was at my local canoe club in Oxford whilst I was studying at Oxford Brookes University; however it was only when I was admitted onto the Girls4Gold talent identification scheme that I started to train properly!

The Girls4Gold talent identification scheme was aimed at finding women aged between 19-25 years, who showed the potential to win medals at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. Following my selection, I moved up to Nottingham in May 2014 to train full-time.

What’s your favourite part of sprint kayaking?

It has to be racing in the crew boats (K2 and K4) – these are fast, exciting races and I love being part of a team.

What do you love about training?

I really enjoy being able to get out in my boat and see improvements in my speed and technique. I also love the satisfaction that I get after a really tough session.

What is the most challenging part of canoeing?

The most difficult part of the sport for me used to be able to stay in the boat! I am much more stable now but for the first few years it was really frustrating to fall in every session!

When do you realise you could go all the way in canoeing?

I first thought I might be able to ‘make it’ when I went to the U23 European Championships in the double (K2) and we finished sixth in Europe. It was an unexpected result but suddenly made me think that I might be good enough.

What do you consider your biggest achievement to date?

Probably being selected for my first senior World Championships last year (in the K4). We were a very new and young crew and we came ninth in the world. It was a fantastic feeling and I just wanted to go out and do it all again.

Have you got any top tips for this year’s athletes?

My top tip for canoeing is to make sure you use your legs and core, not just your arms. Any athlete competing in this event for the first time should just go for it, see how much you can push yourself, whilst remember to have fun!

Don’t miss out on this exciting new event! Buy your tickets for the 2018 School Games National Finals here.