Organisers have described the inaugural ICF Special Olympics Stand Up Paddle clinic as a tremendous boost for the confidence of young athletes after its successful completion on the opening day of the ICF SUP World Championships in Gdynia, Poland, on Wednesday.

Event ambassador and two-time reigning SUP world champion Fiona Wylde led a team of Olympians, world champions and other elite athletes to provide the clinic for a group of Special Olympic athletes, that culminated in a race on “SUP Dragon” boats.

The clinic was organised by the ICF, the Polish Special Olympics Committee and international paddle board manufacturer Starboard.

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“That was spectacular, we had so many amazing athletes paddling out there on the dragon boards and it was super fun to see them on the sprint course,” Wylde said.

“It’s so inspiring, everyone came off the water with a big smile and that’s why we’re here, and that’s why we love paddling and why it’s important to have opportunities for everybody to get on the water.

“We want to share our passion for being out on the water, and our passion is all over the world, so it’s a complete honour to be here.”

Among the instructors were three-time Olympian Tamas Buday Junior and ICF SUP world cup gold medalist April Zilg.

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“I think the kids really loved it, some of them wanted to stand up for sure, but they were powerful and they were awesome. The smiles on their faces said it all, they were loving it, splashing each other. It was a lot of fun,” Buday said.

“I love sharing time on the water with anyone and everyone. The water is healing, it builds confidence because you show yourself you can go out there and stand up, and then maybe you can do other things in life that maybe before you thought you couldn’t.”

Pics by Georgia Schofield

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