7 Weeks of Sunshine

Posted By: Adam Burgess Published: 14/02/2023

Warm-weather camps in the winter are one of my favourite parts about being a canoe slalom athlete. I know I am incredibly fortunate to enjoy such trips so I will try to not rub it in too much! Trust that I also do my fair share of breaking ice to go paddling during the winter so I think it’s earned.

With 2023 being the year we race for Olympic quota places and team nominations, I wanted to kick things off the same way I did my Tokyo campaign- with 5 weeks in Australia. Some very close friends of mine who live in Sydney were planning a pre-Christmas wedding so I aligned my plans to coincide with that and convinced (it wasn’t hard) my coach Craig, and teammate Kim, that we should go away for our warm weather a bit earlier than usual.

Penrith White Water Stadium, a little outside of Sydney NSW has long been a favourite venue for European Canoe Slalom athletes to train during winter. Covid put a long pause on that, so it was a real privilege to be one of the first athletes to make it back there again after so long!

Since we travelled without the rest of the team, we relied on the warm hospitality of the Aussie Federation who very kindly shared their water time and allowed us to integrate with their coaching groups. The course is just an absolute playground for slalom athletes. Double upstream gates on the iconic ‘main wave’ must be one of the best feelings in canoe slalom.

Hikes in the Blue Mountains, beach trips, and a poor attempt at surfing was on the cards outside of training. It’s not just the higher quality of training we get in the warmth that is really beneficial. I truly believe that the extra sunshine and fun activities in the downtime has a lasting positive impact on training pre and post the trip.

It was beginning to look at lot like Christmas by the end of my trip. Christmas trees, Santa hats, and fake snow was a strange one for me to get used to when the air temperature was a comfortable 25-30 degrees. I also took part in the annual ‘Chrissy’ race where the rules state it is compulsory to wear some kind of Christmas decoration on your helmet. Taking the win was a nice touch to finish the trip on. A special thanks to the Bassett family for hosting me, we had a blast those 5 weeks and I can’t wait to train out there again! .

There was a 10 day turnaround at home for Christmas before my passport was being stamped once again as I joined the team this time for 2 weeks training in Al Ain, UAE. Training here is a different kind of experience to Aus. We’re literally in a desert. I enjoy the lack of distraction to really focus on rest between sessions. Training was high quality here and we completed a lot of white-water volume. We also teamed up with reigning Olympic champion and Peak PS team member Beni Savsek for a few training sessions. With the extra space around training I really got into my yoga practice and enjoyed teaching some classes to some of our international friends as well. Something I might continue online now I’m settled back in the UK (Watch this space.)

There was another (poor) attempt at surfing at the end of the trip on Wadi Adventure’s artificial wave pool before heading home. With a few hours to spare in the city before the flight as well and a chance meeting with a friend from London I just about squeezed in a trip to the top of the Burj Khalifa, over half a kilometre high the tallest building in the world. Some view!

Always super grateful to the sport for providing such opportunities not just to train in these locations but to experience and enjoy the different cultures too. That’s my S/S Racer STs and Polo Topdeck packed away for few months anyway whilst I finish my preparations for a big season back in chilly London.