Olympic Legends Praise London Legacy

Olympic rower Pinsent and canoeist stott praise London 2012 legacy venue less than a week before it hosts the prestigious ICF Canoe Slalom World Championships.

Four-time Olympic champion Sir Matthew Pinsent joined Britain's leading slalom canoeists at London’s Lee Valley White Water Centre, in advance of the ICF Canoe Slalom World Championships there later this month.

The Lee Valley White Water Centre is the first London 2012 legacy venue to stage a World Championships.

The ICF Canoe Slalom World Championships will be shown live across the world and in Britain on the BBC Red Button on Saturday 19th and Sunday 20th September, with a highlights programme to be shown on BBC Two on Monday, September 21st. Coverage will be presented by Matt Pinsent, with expert analysis provided by Athens Canoe Slalom Olympic medallist Helen Reeves.

Sir Matt says he’s looking forward to the event: “It will be fantastic to head to one of London 2012’s legacy venues – everyone who was there has spoken of the unique atmosphere during those magical days.

“To be the first London Olympic venue to stage a World Championships is a great achievement. It promises to be a brilliant occasion and I’m looking forward to seeing all the drama unfold on the water.”

A strong British challenge – including 2012 Olympic medallists Etienne Stott, David Hounslow and Richard Florence – is expected at the Championships which takes place on September 16th-20th in front of crowds hoping to sample some of the atmosphere seen at the venue during the London Games.

As well as awarding the prestigious titles of World Champion, the Championships – part of UK Sport’s National Lottery funded #EveryRoadtoRio series – will also be the first of only two opportunities to qualify boats in all four Olympic classes for Rio 2016.

Olympic Champion Etienne Stott MBE will return to the scene where he won gold with Tim Baillie in the canoe double event (C2). Now with new crewmate Mark Proctor, Stott is full of enthusiasm to test their skills against the best paddlers in the world and fight for the opportunity to defend his title in Rio.

“There are so many memories of 2012 here but we want to create even more with success at these championships. We have so much to look forward to, with Rio just around the corner,” he said.

“We experienced the passion and enthusiasm of the British crowd behind us in 2012 and we really want them to come out in numbers again this year and back us on the Road to Rio. Knowing you have the support of the public gives you that extra edge and with the smallest of margins making the difference between the top few boats, it really counts for a lot.”

The Lee Valley White Water Centre is the first London 2012 legacy venue to stage a World Championships. The facility is widely regarded as the best artificial white water course in the world with a beginners standard legacy channel also on site, the centre provides a unique opportunity for people of all ages to try canoe slalom and white water rafting.

Paul Osborn, Chairman, Lee Valley Regional Park Authority, said, "Four years after blazing a trail as the first London 2012 venue to win a major international event, Lee Valley White Water Centre is just days away from the ICF Canoe Slalom World Championships. More than 150,000 people from across London and the UK have already rafted and paddled here - and we hope this event will encourage thousands more to take part in the great activities at this world class venue.”

The centre – and the sport as a whole – is a true example of what legacy can bring to sport following an Olympic Games. The last Watersports Survey published in 2014 shows that 1.5 million people currently paddle – the highest figure for canoeing since the survey began in 2002.

The survey also estimates that over 320,000 households now own a canoe or kayak – that’s one in a hundred households across the UK, which has increased by 55% in the last four years. Of all boats owned in the UK, nearly half (47%) are canoes or kayaks.

Tickets are still available for the championships and can be bought via the official website – canoelondon2015.com.

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