Becoming a coach was not something that was on Rosalyn Lawrence’s radar when she was considering life after competing at the highest level.

Lawrence enjoyed an impressive career as a Canoe Slalom paddler, notably winning three world titles as part of Australia’s C1 team and achieving individual success on the World Cup circuit.

She retired from competition in 2019 before embarking on a degree in psychology only to be lured back into the sport three years later when she secured the role of Performance Pathways Lead for Canoe Slalom at Paddle Australia, which includes coaching at camps and competitions.

“When I was an athlete I never thought I would be a coach after retiring from the sport,” said Lawrence.

“I was pretty certain I wouldn’t be.

“I don’t know why but I just wanted to try different things.

“I thought I would move away from the sport, but I missed it a lot as it is such a tight knit community.

“It feels really good to be back in the slalom world as it has been such a big part of my life for so long.

“I really missed going to all the great venues domestically and internationally and many of my friends and acquaintances are in slalom.”

2018 ICF Canoe Slalom World Cup 2 Krakow Rosalyn LAWRENCE AUS

It is no surprise that Lawrence got the itch to get back into Canoe Slalom especially given her family’s strong connections with the sport.

Lawrence started paddling under the tutelage of her father who coached the Canoe Slalom team at Bonalbo Central School which she attended.

She also benefitted from advice from her two elder sisters who both achieved great things in the sport with Jacqueline winning silver at the Beijing 2008 Olympics and Kate being crowned the World Cup champion in 2008.

As well as the support of her family, Mike Druce had a big influence on Lawrence during his time as Head Coach of the Canoe Slalom national team in Australia.

“Mike was the coach that I worked with for the longest time in my career and he was always there for me when I needed it,” said Lawrence.

“He was great at creating a really positive environment.

“He allowed me a lot of independence which I appreciated.

“High performance sport can be a bit of a rollercoaster ride, so it was really good to have Mike’s support along my journey.”

Ros Lawrence Canoe Slalom coach Australia

Lawrence was part of the coaching team, led by Druce, at the recent International Canoe Federation development camp in Pattaya, Thailand where she was excited to work alongside fellow female coaches Atcharaporn Duanglawa of Thailand and Wei-Han Chen of Chinese Taipei as well as Lachlan Bassett of Australia.

The camp took place alongside the Asian Canoe Slalom Championships earlier this month and saw Lawrence work with athletes of different abilities.

“The beginners were very impressive,” said Lawrence.

“They mastered whitewater and were looking very confident on the gates by the end of the camp which was very exciting to see.

“It was good fun and my group were all very committed to getting the best out of themselves.

“I love to empower the athletes.

“I just want to remove all barriers so they can learn quickly, feel good about themselves and have a long, sustained career.”

Lawrence is also enjoying her role with Paddle Australia as she looks to support the development of Canoe Slalom in her country with a view to the Brisbane 2032 Olympics and Paralympics.

Ros Lawrence Canoe Slalom coach Australia

“It was challenging for young Australian paddlers not be able to go overseas and race for a couple of years during COVID,” said Lawrence.

“But we are bouncing back and all the athletes are wonderful and we have a great team that support the athletes incredibly well.

“The Performance Pathways team includes two full time daily training environment coaches, Christian Fabris and Titouan Dupras, who are doing fantastic work with the athletes.

“We also have other staff and the support of the HP program and the Australian Institute of Sport, which makes a huge difference.”

Myriam Fox-Jerusalmi, the mother and coach of Olympic champion Jess Fox, remains an inspirational figure for female coaches in Australia.

Lawrence said she was delighted to see an increase in women holding coaching positions.

“Even in 2019 there were not many female coaches at a senior level on the international circuit but at last year’s Junior and U23 World Championships in Krakow there were far more than I expected to see which is really exciting,” said Lawrence.

“We have been very lucky in Australia to have Myriam there for the past couple of decades.

Ros Lawrence Canoe Slalom coach Australia

“Female coaches are well accepted in Australia and everyone is very supportive both in the high performance team and across the country.

“We have excellent female coaches around Australia like Zoe Lau in Tasmania, Emmie Barratt, Alex Broome and Georgia Rankin in Penrith and Rachel Crosbee has a group of paddlers in Victoria.

“They are doing such an amazing job and are so passionate.”

This year’s Olympics in Paris will see an equal number of male and female athletes compete in Canoe Sprint and Canoe Slalom.

It will be the second successive Games where there has been gender parity after the inclusion of women’s C1 200 and C2 500 in Canoe Sprint and women’s C1 in Canoe Slalom – a move which Lawrence believes is leading to more female coaches in the sport.

“Having equal representation at the Olympics means you have a larger pool of female athletes to potentially progress to becoming coaches,” said Lawrence.

“It is a far friendlier sport now because having four spots available for men and only one for women for any given country was not really sending a great message.

“Finally, we got gender parity in 2021 and I think that has created a real shift in acceptance of women in the sport.”

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