Two-time Olympian Mike Dawson has announced his retirement from canoe slalom but says the sport is in a fantastic space in New Zealand.
The 32-year-old competed at the London 2012 and Rio 2016 Olympic Games placing 15th and 10th respectively.
Dawson says it wasn’t an easy decision to pull pin on competing but he’s excited about new projects within the sport.
“I’ve been spending more and more time working on film projects and documentaries and recently I’ve been way more passionate about these projects than about getting out on the water, so I’m keen to do more expeditions, make more films and share our sport in a totally different way.”
The Tauranga paddler says the Olympic Games have been an amazing experience, with one moment a clear stand out.
“My highlight was definitely watching teammate Luuka Jones win the silver medal in Rio. It was so awesome to share that moment with her, I even jumped into the water to congratulate her!
“That win showed that New Zealand can compete with the best on the world stage. We worked so hard for so long for that result, so to see it all come to fruition and see New Zealand on the podium was awesome.”
The number of youths involved in canoe slalom in New Zealand is booming and Dawson believes we have a big chance to become a leading nation in the sport.
“Slalom has gone through a massive transition in New Zealand during my career, it’s gone from a complete amateur sport to a fully funded high performance sport with an Olympic course in South Auckland so we’re in a great place to be dominating on the world stage.
“It’s super inspiring to see how many young kids there are chasing their dreams in canoe slalom and wanting to set goals to go to the Olympics and win medals. You don’t have to be anyone special to do these things, it’s just about making a plan, chasing your dreams and being determined.”Rio 2016 London 2012 Olympic Summer Games Mike Dawson