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submitted by Abby Holcombe

Here is an interview with Ottilie Robinson-Shaw. Ottilie is not only a 2x Freestyle Kayak World Champion but she is an incredible athlete, role model, and continues to break so many barriers for freestyle!

Q: You are such an inspiration to so many paddlers so who is your biggest inspiration?
A: I feel very fortunate to have had Claire O’Hara as my role model growing up. She was always helping other athletes, was kind and compassionate and in a league of her own on the water. She was a force to be reckoned with and has greatly influenced my journey.

Q: You are so accomplished already, what are your goals for the future?
A: This year (2022) is a very exciting year. I am heavily focused on my first senior World Championships at home in Nottingham where I hope to lay down some big rides in K1, C1, and Squirt Boat.

Long term I hope to lead the charge in freestyle amongst the best men and women in the World and push competition rides to an entirely new level.

Q: Any advice for someone who wants to get into freestyle?
A: Freestyle is fun with friends, so find some people who are better than you and try to paddle with them.

Ottilie Robinson-Shaw Q&A

Make sure you enjoy the process, learning tricks can take a long time for some people so make sure you’re having fun whilst trying to improve.

Q: How do you feel about off-water training?
A: Over the past few years I have fallen in love with off-the-water training. Regularly going to the gym and lifting weights makes me feel strong, powerful, and athletic. Being strong keeps me injury-free and helps me throw bigger and snappier tricks.

Q: What’s the one piece of advice you got (could be both on or off the water) that has shaped you into the paddler you are now?
A: When I was 13 and too big for my shooting star but reluctant to make the leap to the much larger 2014 Rockstar, Dan Mcgaley (My first freestyle coach) told me if I kept paddling my beloved shooting star my feet would be so ugly I wouldn’t be able to wear sandals to my wedding. I took his advice and learnt to paddle a bigger boat but 7 years of kayaking later my feet are too bashed for sandals but I wear them anyway!

Q: The fear of failure is another topic in kayaking that is rarely talked about, have you ever struggled with it?
A: As a young junior (14/15 years old) I was too shy and embarrassed to even try harder tricks like lunars or trickies because at the time I only really saw men do them and didn’t want to appear “cocky”. I now realize that mentality is stupid and once I got over the embarrassment of falling on my face I got to enjoy doing lunars and trickies with the guys.

Q: What is your most memorable day on the water? It could be a podium finish, a great day with friends, or getting a new combo…. Anything that you think back to as the best day on the water!
A: I’ve had so many fun days on the water. A few highlights include winning my first World Championships in Argentina, my first ever competition at the Nene in the UK, and the day I landed my first Mcnasty with Den.

Ottilie Robinson-Shaw Q&A

Every day on the water is special and I’m grateful to look back on thousands of days on the water and smile.

Q: What advice would you give to 11-year-old Ottie who just started kayaking?
A: Be confident.

Q: You have broken and continue to break so many barriers for freestyle women. What or who inspired you to become the paddler you are today?
A: As previously mentioned Claire O had a significant influence on my paddling. Dennis Newton (Supercoach) provided me with the technical knowledge and lit a fire within me to push the boundaries and land big tricks.