Newland and new tricks creates Australian freestyle history

Throwing tricks in a swimming pool would not seem the most ideal preparation for a canoe freestyle world championships, but it was good enough to help 18-year-old Jack Newland make Australian history at the 2019 ICF world championships in Sort, Spain, on Friday.

The Geelong teenager became Australia’s first ever junior world championship medalist, when he took bronze in the men’s kayak surface final.

Unlike most of his opponents, who train on some of the best whitewater in the world, Newland has to make do with a swimming pool. But it didn’t phase him on Friday.

“It’s unbelievable, I’m so stoked. This is crazy,” Newland said.

“It’s been stressful, with a lot of butterflies, but I’ve been excited for most of the day. I didn’t know I could get on the podium.

“It takes a long time in a swimming pool. It’s good, it’s fantastic training, but you’ve got to put in the hard work.”

Newland said he went to Sort hoping to finish top ten, after finishing top 15 in Argentina in 2017. He created history on Friday morning by becoming the first Australian to make a junior freestyle world championship final, and then scored 660 points on his first ride in the final to take the bronze.

He said training in a pool four times a week may have given him an advantage over other athletes.

“Swimming pool training gives you a lot of boat control and strength, but it doesn’t give you the feel for features and waves such as this one,” he said.

“You really are going in unknown. It took me four days when I got here to get use to the feature, because it’s completely different to what I’ve paddled before, and obviously completely different to a swimming pool.”

In two years’ time Newland will compete against the seniors for the first time.

“I’ll need a lot more swimming pool practice, and hopefully a lot more whitewater practice,” he said.

“I finish school pretty soon, so I’m pretty excited for the future, that’s for sure.”

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