Paddle Australia has revealed its strategic priorities to support its performance objectives for the Paris 2024 Olympics, having made changes due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With a smaller Olympic cycle of only three years now between Tokyo and Paris, the plan comes after the Australian Government pledged funds to the high-performance sport, helping to alleviate the financial cost of the ongoing crisis.

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Paddle Australia started its strategic planning process in the latter part of 2019 in collaboration with high-performance sports consultant Mike McGovern. He conducted a consultation process to identify important strategic and operational practices that could help Paddle Australia benefit internationally in canoe slalom, canoe sprint, and para canoe.

Originally intended to run until the conclusion of the Paris 2024 Games, it will also incorporate the postponed Tokyo Olympic Games, now due to take place in 2021.

National performance director Shaun Stephens said: “Whilst we need to keep our eyes firmly fixed on the new date for the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games, we must also continue to plan for continued success in Paris and beyond.”

By implementing some of these changes now, we assist our objectives in Tokyo 2021, but importantly, this will provide us with good momentum into the shortened 2024 Olympic and Paralympic cycle.

Speaking about the funding, Stephens added: “The announcement comes at an ideal time for the confirmation of our high-performance strategic plan to ensure our teams remain internationally competitive through Tokyo Olympic, Paris 2024 and beyond.”

We welcome the funding commitment, which will ensure that current funding levels can be maintained as our athletes and coaches continue their preparations for the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games. Due to the success of canoe slalom and para canoe, the programmed for these disciplines will continue with developing strategies and initiatives. 

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With canoe sprint not being as successful, there is an aim to make a strategic shift over the next 18 months to ensure its success for Australia.  There will also be improvements to the performance pathways to ensure development continues in the sport, while kayaking will receive a full programmed, centralized at the National Centre of Excellence with a higher quality of coaching.

It will also focus on a relationship between the governing body and athletes to ensure mutual success at Olympic and Paralympic level. Australia has won at least one Olympic medal in canoeing at every game since 1980, winning two bronze medals at Rio 2016.

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