A kayaker from Llangollen who was overjoyed to be selected for the world championships now has to raise £3,000 to realise her dream.
Lowri Davies, 32, got into kayaking through her parents and this year managed to place in the top five in the UK to earn her spot at the championships in San Juan, Argentina later this year.
The two qualifying events took place on artificial courses in Cardiff and Nottingham earlier this year with Lowri finishing third and the top five men and women making the trip.
While the sport made an appearance at the Olympics in 2012 as an exhibition event, it is yet to make the leap to full Olympic sport meaning there is no funding available from UK Sport for competitors, meaning athletes must raise funds to get to competition.
Lowri said: “I was ecstatic when I found out I’d been selected. I’ve been on the team before but this was the first time as a senior that I’ve been able to do the Worlds and have time to commit to training properly, so it’s a really exciting.
“There have been a lot of early mornings out on the river; early this year I put up a picture on Instagram of a 6am on the river and it was only five degrees.
“When the conditions are right, you have to make the most of it, especially in the UK as the rivers are dependent on rainfall, so if it’s been raining you have to make the most of it.”
“We have to pay £200 towards all the mandatory things they have to provide for the team, then everything to get ourselves there: accommodation, flights, insurance – and that’s pretty expensive.
“The championships are in San Juan, fairly far north in Argentina, so I’m pretty excited.”
“Ideally we need to get £3,000 to cover everything,” she said.
“I’ve got kit sponsors – CrossFit Wrexham have helped with physical training and a few others but no cash.”
Lowri coaches kayaking on the Dee with freeflow.co.uk and is a former European champion so is hopeful of her chances of a medal. She says North Wales is the perfect place to get into the sport.
As well as coaching, she also helps out with Llangollen Canoe Club.
“The Dee is one of the only rivers in the UK that runs all year, it’s not dependent on rainfall and there’s really nice features you can use for freestyle. That’s not the case even on whitewaters on other rivers,” she said.
“Then having Tryweryn over by Bala, if the river is getting shallow, you can practice over there as well.
“My dad started kayaking at university, and so I grew up seeing it quite a lot, but when I was a kid there weren’t child-size kayaks or paddles so it wasn’t accessible, so I was 13 or 14 before I was using a kayak when they got small enough and I was big enough
“I just started with a canoe club and that’s how to get into it: find a canoe club.
“You don’t have to shell out for a kayak straight away as you can borrow one. You can get coaching and they organise trips as well.”
To sponsor Lowri contact her on email@example.com
See full story in the Free Press