Like athletes around the world, 23-year-old French canoe slalom paddler Mathurin Madore has spent a lot of this year unable to do what he loves most – getting out on the water and training and competing.

But unlike most of his fellow athletes, the 2019 K1 silver medalist from the U23 world championships has had no trouble finding something to keep him occupied during lockdown.

He’s decided to produce a canoe slalom magazine, looking at the past and present history of the sport in France.

“I started to think about this years ago, but I got really serious in February last year when I started writing a blog about races and everything about slalom,” Madore said.

“I had been a professional in sport for about six months, so the only thing I had to do was train. I had finished my studies, and I wanted something else to do besides training.”

The early feedback confirmed what Madore had suspected for some time; that there was an appetite in France for content about canoe slalom. There were already magazines on the market, but they covered canoeing generally.

He also realised people wanted to know much more than just results and event reports. And he soon discovered there is a wealth of information available about canoe slalom in France. The biggest problem was what to include and what to exclude from the 170 pages.

“With the person I am working with we had to make choices, because there is so many different topics that we can talk about,” he said.

“There is historic information, some about today, some about how slalom will be in the future. There are funny articles, some about more serious topics, so it will be very different. I’m not sure if I will make another one, so we wanted to make this one as good as we possibly can, and then after that we will know if we want to do another.”

we had to make choices, because there is so many different topics that we can talk about

The experience has been an eye-opener for the Frenchman, as he delves back through the history of slalom in France. He knew a lot about the sport before he began the project, and now he knows a lot more.

The trick is to present the information in a way that can be understood by everyone, not just elite paddlers. He also had a very good contact who could fill in the blank spots about some of the sport’s earlier history – his father, Herve, himself a former member of the French national team.

“My father was a paddler during the 80’s and the 70’s, and he really liked looking in the archives, so I am learning a few things with him,” he said.

“There will be one or two historical articles that I will write with him. For example, we will have an article on the first world champion from France from the 50’s. He has a very interesting story, because after he finished paddling slalom he went to America and did some big rivers and things like this.”

Madore is receiving a lot of support from his fellow athletes, who are looking forward to reading articles about themselves and their sport. They are also helping crowdfund the project. As Madore points out, without the public support it could not happen.

“I’m not trying to personally earn any money doing this, but obviously we need to have money to print the magazine and to pay for the graphics and everything. So we are organising a crowdfunding campaign to pre-sell the magazine,” he said.

“With this we can know very precisely how many people will buy it, how many we need to print, so it makes it much easier to work with.”

I don’t know if there will be a number two, but I have so many ideas to promote slalom

Of course, once the covid-19 threat passes everything will return to almost normal, which will mean Madore will have less time on his hands. A home Olympics in 2024 is a huge motivational factor for him, and still very much the number one priority.

But if his first magazine is a raging success, well maybe there will have to be more.

“I don’t know if there will be a number two, but I have so many ideas to promote slalom,” he said.

“But all of them take so much time, so I don’t really know. I just want to finish this project and finish it well. I am thinking maybe I will make an English version of this book, because there will be more people who can read it.

“But for sure I want to train and be an athlete before being a writer, but we will see.”

Madore hopes the magazine will be available for the European summer – hopefully about the time people are getting back on the water and preparing once again for top-level canoe slalom action.

If you would like to support Mathurin's project you can access the crowdfunding site here.

Canoe Slalom