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Friday 30 May 2014

Guy Holmes kayaking champion

The British Masters Kayak Sprint Championships were held earlier this month in Nottingham. Our very own senior lecturer Guy Holmes became British Masters (Over 54s) K1, 200m Champion.

It wasn’t that long ago that Guy won the title of British Masters Champion in a four man kayak (K4) over 500m and now he has claimed a British Masters Championship title in his own right.

In this interview Guy talks about his training and the challenge in competing in the championships:

How long have you been kayaking?

“I got into kayaking when I was in the scouts and realised I was quite good at it! I was a Junior International in my late teens, but I later changed sports and got into Olympic Weight Lifting. I took Bronze at the Senior English Championships and I was British Student Champion as well.”

“Injury stopped me from lifting for several years, but I returned to it in the mid- 90’s and won the British Masters Olympic Weightlifting Championships. Then children came along and for the last 20 years I have just run to keep fit and sailed my yacht.”

“20 months ago after a trip to the Olympic Games and, as luck would have it, with tickets to watch Sprint Kayaking, I thought that I would give 200m sprinting a go. 200m is a new distance for Sprint Kayaking, previously the shortest distance was 500m. Before that I hadn’t paddled at all for 36 years!”

What can you tell us about your training routine?

“As a speed endurance event, the training is hard and it hurts. I train 6-7 days a week on the Hamble. Over the winter, however, James Grant and Sport Solent were a great help, they provided me with somewhere warm and dry to train for a couple of my sessions. I used their gym twice a week.”

What was your biggest challenge?

Keeping the boat upright! In all seriousness, that has been one of the most difficult things to master. The other has been the modern paddling technique. The paddling technique and the equipment have changed so much in the 38 years since I last raced. The boats are far more unstable and the paddles are so different, very hi-tech.”

What are you doing next?

“Although I am a sprinter I will compete at the National Marathon Championships in late August. In the world of competitive flat water kayak racing, a marathon can be any distance from 4 mile to 125 miles. For my age group, thankfully, the National Championships are only over 4 miles.”

“Before that I will do a 15 mile race in Spain (pictured). That should be spectacular. The Spanish take their kayaking very seriously. There will be a thousand competitors, the start will be a Le Mans style start and the banks will be lined with supporters. There is even a train laid on to follow the race down the river. I’m a sprinter though and these races will be just for fun, I’ve already started training for next year’s National Masters Sprint Championships!”