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Yes! That’s right this year at the London 2012 Olympic Games, freestyle kayaking made an appearance. Six athletes from 5 continents were chosen to be the first to present the sport of freestyle kayaking to the Olympics.

The athletes were James Bebbington (GBR), Claire O’hara (GBR), Motoko Ishida (JPN), Juma Kilakwani (UGD), Dane Jackson (USA) and Courtney Kerin (NZL).

We meet up in London on the 26th and gathered our athlete accreditation. On the 28th we got to have our first training run which we were all super amped for. The water was warm and the features proved better than they looked! Although still quite shallow and not very retentive we proved that the tricks could still be performed to a great standard!

All fired up after our first practice on the water Lluis surprised us with VIP tickets to the opening ceremony! It was an absolutely incredible experience! We were given special lunch boxes at the gates and had what I believe were some of the best seats in the stadium! It was truly an incredible thing to see and feel in person. I never thought I could be constantly astounded and mesmerized for so long!

We got back at around 3.30am, so we got in a quick sleep before our 2nd training run the next morning. It went really well again and was followed up by our first performance following the preliminary slalom races. Sadly the London weather held true and the rain began as soon as the slalom prelims finished, so much of the crowd left right as our display was about to begin, but we still made the most of it having a really good time and it looked like what was left of the crowd really enjoyed it too!

Next day the final round of prelims were performed before we got back out on the water and the weather was slightly warmer though the rain still came. The crowd remained larger, but the big days were still to come.
The Last two days were semis and finals, which we then followed before the medals ceremonies.
These last days the stands were packed and the crowd was raging! It was incredible to perform in front of such an enormous crowd that was so fired up in seeing our sport and got right behind us, cheering us on the whole time and supposedly gasping as we performed our tricks.

We all had an incredible time with smiles raging. And whenever we finished our display we played around on the legacy course (practice course) just having a good time and what seemed like it must have been every media person who had a camera kept running up to film us.
I believe we did a great job of introducing the sport of Freestyle kayaking to a whole new audience and get media recognition all over the world mean while just enjoying what we do.
At the end of it all we went to the ICF party where we were present with a gold medal each label with the Olympic rings as a memorial for what we had done.

Courtney Kerin

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