16 September 2020

In the latest in our series celebrating the legacy of Olympic canoe venues, we head to Penrith, Sydney, where this week they will mark 20 years since the 2020 slalom Games competition began. 

Thursday, 17 September 2020 marks the 20th anniversary of the start of the Sydney 2000 Olympic canoe slalom competition at Penrith Whitewater Stadium.  

Olympic dreams came to life at the purpose-built “River of Dreams” during 17 – 20 September 2000 with the world’s attention on Sydney and Penrith during this time. 
Since then, the Olympic legacy venue has continued to attract the world’s best athletes for training and competition in Penrith, including the flagship International Canoe Federation (ICF) Australian Open in February each year.  
Securing canoe slalom for the Sydney Olympic Games in 2000 took an international effort and set the foundation for a thriving legacy for the sport and community in Penrith to this day.
“The International Canoe Federation is proud that the spirit of solidarity within the international community, the commitment of Penrith City Council to help build and sustain the venue and the support of the NSW Government enabled the inclusion of canoe slalom in the Sydney Games, with spectacular success,” ICF president, Jose Perurena, said. 

“The benefits of this special collaboration can be seen with the growth of the sport in Australia, annual world class events and the promise of a sustained legacy into the future.”

Penrith Whitewater Stadium is fantastic and is pivotal in the success canoe slalom has had

The whitewater stadium is about to undergo a redevelopment that will further add to its standing as one of the world’s premiere canoe slalom venues.

Olympic silver medalist Danielle Woodward competed in front of her home crowd at the Sydney Games. She has continued to work to promote canoe slalom throughout the world, and is a member of the ICF’s board of directors. 

“Penrith Whitewater Stadium is fantastic and is pivotal in the success canoe slalom has had,” she said.  

“Without the course Australian Slalom Canoeing would not be the multi-medal winning sport it is today.  Penrith is a thriving satellite city now and the course brings international athletes out to Australia every year. 
“It is time to expand the stadium into a true park where families can come and enjoy the area and activities.  A lot of courses overseas provide all sorts of adventure activities alongside the slalom course.  It can be a centre of excellence for slalom and a park for all.” 

The facility offers great opportunities for the local community

Celebrating the 20th anniversary of the origins of this iconic Sydney 2000 legacy venue, will mark the starting point of an exciting future for the Olympic sport of canoe slalom and the local community.

An Australian Government grant will work towards a permanent high performance facility at the venue, while a revitalisation project, including an innovative proposal to use solar energy to power the pumps, is backed by federal, state and local government.

Ross Fowler is Mayor of Penrith City Council and a strong supporter of building the future of Penrith as a major paddling destination. 
“The facility offers great opportunities for the local community,” Mayor Fowler said. 

“We want to see participation in sport and paddling grow and to see a centre that is a visitor destination accessible by the whole community for active recreation, both on and off the water.  The opportunities in and around the Penrith Lakes and the Whitewater Stadium are limitless.

“The proposed larger project will involve the building of a second whitewater channel and the development of the surrounding parklands as active spaces connecting to the Nepean River and Penrith.”

We are very excited about the next 20 years and beyond

Paddle Australia CEO Phil Jones said the planned development at and around the Sydney 2000 slalom venue will be a major boost for the sport.
“We are very excited to be working on bringing new dreams to life and to continue working with Penrith City, the state and federal governments and other agencies to ensure a vibrant future for this venue, the local community and the sport as a whole,” Jones said. 
“Canoe slalom wasn’t on the initial program for Sydney 2000, and there was a lot of work done by the ICF, the Australian Canoe Federation and Penrith City Council to ensure that the sport was reinstated into the Games.  

“Had it not been for that work in 2000, the commitment of many federations, companies and individuals, we wouldn’t have had the success we have enjoyed over the past 20 years, in Australia and internationally.  And with the new funding and the continuous support of everyone involved, we are very excited about the next 20 years and beyond.”

Story by Cora Zillich

Pics by Peter Heeley 

Penrith Sydney 2000 Olympics

Canoe Slalom