2008 Awards will be presented at the ICU Agm, October 18th, at Finnstown House, Lucan, Co.Dublin.
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"Above all else, encourage the young folk." This was the message from Paddy Maloney from Kilcullen Canoe-club who has raced every one of the fifty years that canoeing has been in Ireland as a competitive activity. He was honoured as part of the Great Oudoors Canoeing Achievement Awards on the 24th of Novemeber.
Recognising achievement should be a key objective in our canoeing community and with the support of our Tilte sponsors Great Oudoors these awards aim to do this. Currently, we have thousands of members who contribute through their own successes and by supporting others. Across the family of canoe-disciplines from competition to adventure, our partners are instructors, coaches, paddlers and support personnel. The commitment of our paddling community is based on a key tenet of sport-that it requires voluntary effort. Those professionally employed contribute above and beyond their basic requirements, and athletes who receive funding sacrifice much in their quest for personal accomplishment.
Achievement is not just about first place, glory or triumph, but about maximising potential and a sense of accomplishment. Across the spectrum of canoe-sport we have historically been successful no matter what metric is used-we have produced 18 Olympians, four European Championship medallists (including canoe-polo), five Junior Championship medallists on the World stage and completed first descents across several continents. Furthermore, our sport has been part of the Special Olympics programme, had visually impaired competitors and been used by Spinal Injuries Ireland for recreation. In essence, we have a sport for people from six to sixty, offering a challenge for all.
Great Outdoors, our partner sponsors have long been associated with canoe-sport. Indeed their CEO Gerry Collins was an Olympian in the canoe-slalom event at the Munich Olympics. More recently, they have been title sponsors of the Junior Liffey Descent, the Lower Liffey, the Dublin Canoe-Polo League and supported the Liffey Descent, the Irish Open in Canoe-polo and the World Cup event at Castleconnell. Furthermore, they offer a 10% discount to our members on purchases in the Great Outdoors stores. It is fitting then that they are the title sponsors of the event as they represent achievement and partnership in canoe-sport.
The Categories awarded were:
PADDLER OF THE YEAR (The Salmon Leap Trophy)-Winner LEN KELLEHER-World champion in kayak surf this October, Len is normally more familiar in the freestyle competition environment where he competes with his brother at the World level. The 19 year old talent has a bright future across the disciplines of canoeing. Nominees included the U21 Canoe-Polo Team (bronze medallists at Europeans), Liz Shouldice (7th in World Cup Wildwater), Eoin Rheinisch (Qualified an Olympic place for Beijing & 6th in Slalom Europeans), Neil Fleming & Brendan Maloney (6th in Europeans in Flatwater Racing).
JUNIOR PADDLER OF THE YEAR (The Celbridge Paddler Trophy)-Winner BARRY WATKINS-European Junior Champion in Flatwater racing and medallist in marathon Worlds, this son of dual Olympian Barry Watkins, has ambitions for London 2012. His outstanding performances including the Irish Senior record for 1000m. Nominees were Lorcan Feeley (15 year old who raced Wild-water racing World Champs), Aisling Conlon (U21 canoe-polo International) and Brian Keogh (K2 Partner of Barry Watkins 5th in Marathon Worlds).
CLUB OF THE YEAR-(The Richmond Canoe Club Trophy)-Winner WILD WATER KAYAK CLUB-Irelands largest and most active canoe club still has the spirit of adventure despite providing coaching and competition across all the disciplines within the family of canoe-sport. Nominees were Kilcock Canoe Polo Club, Salmon Leap, UCD canoe club and Tullamore Canoe Club.
COACH/INSTRUCTOR OF THE YEAR (The Training Unit Trophy)-Winner MARTIN MCCARTHY-Based in Wild-water kayak club Martin coaches junior and seniors in wild-water racing. He is also Director of Wild-Water Racing at the National level and organises trips abroad for his young athletes. Nominees included the following: Colin Irvine, Ciaran Maguire, Vincent Pierce, Mark McCormack and Gabor Kulscar.
OUTSTANDING CONTRIBUTION (The Weirgate Trophy-In Memory of Ken & Violet Cooper)-Winner PADDY MALONEY-Our octogenerian competitor was honoured as one of the founders of canoeing in Ireland. In the 1950's he constructed the first craft-wooden frames covered in canvas. He promoted canoeing in Kilcullen canoe-club and in the Army, teaching and encouraging generations of paddlers. Those to benefit from his leadership were Brendan O'Connell (Olympic representative in 1972& 1976) who went on to become a member of the Olympic Council of Ireland and is a former President of the Irish Canoe Union.
OUTSTANDING SUPPORT (The Brendan O'Connell Trophy)-Winner ESB-Our key partner across the disciplines of canoeing over the last 50 years. Ironically, they too celebrate an anniversary, as it is 80 years since they were established with the advent of the Shannon hydroelectric scheme. Both canoeing and the ESB evolved from rivers. In fact, the hyrdo stations provided the control that the paddlers needed both in terms of safety and water regulation. This has benefitted all canoeists including the 1,000 that pursue the annual pilgrimage that is the Liffey Descent (48 years old now). It is only right that we recognise this partnership with canoesport with the inaugural award for outstanding support to canoe-sport.