Hyunsoo Kim has been employed by the Korean Canoe Federation as its national canoe slalom coach.

It’s exciting news for canoeing in Korea, and also for the International Canoe Federation. Hyunsoo is a graduate of the ICF’s Talent Identification Program (TIP), which aims to develop athletes and canoe programs in regions of the world where canoeing is still in its infancy.

Hyunsoo’s love affair with canoeing began when he was just 13, but at first it was as a sprint athlete. Three years later he dabbled for the first time in slalom, enjoyed the thrill, and the rest is history.

Between 2011 and 2014 Hyunsoo was part of the TIP program, honing his skills as an athlete under the leadership of some of the world’s best canoe slalom coaches.

It was hard work, mainly because slalom, unlike sprint, was not very developed or supported in Korea. It made young Hyunsoo very much a pioneer in the sport, which presented many challenges.

“Canoeing was very scary at first, there was a lot of fear because of the rapids,” Hyunsoo said.

“But I kept in there, learned the eskimo roll, and then started having fun. From then on I loved doing canoe slalom.

“For now it is a very basic first step, to try and nurture talent.”

He was overlooked for selection in the 2014 Asian Games, so turned his attention to his academic studies. But his fondness for the sport remained, and he began coaching the college slalom team.

“When I first began coaching, I wanted to compete rather than coach, so I had a hard time trying to support the athletes,” he said.

“But my passion for the coaching job grew when one of the athletes I coached was selected to be on the national team.

“I was very proud to see the hard work in training pay off at competitions.”

Hyunsoo is excited about the future for canoe slalom in Korea, but knows it will be a long journey. There are a lot of promising athletes, but many of them are currently undertaking their mandatory military service.

That leaves a pool of very young athletes who are still at the early stages of their development

Canoe Slalom