Imagine paddling down whitewater rapids in a kayak as an 11 year old, helmet slipping down in front of your eyes, barely strong enough to pull on the paddle blades. This is how the athletic careers of Jacqui, Kate and Rosalyn Lawrence began. In those days we were more concerned about staying upright than about navigating through the 18 to 25 ‘gates’ that comprise a Canoe Slalom course!
Dad, Kate and Ros on the Clarence River Jacqui, NSW Schools Championships, Tumut 1994 In the beginning we participated in the sport recreationally with our family, packing food and camping gear into our boats for overnight canoe trips down the Clarence River. Once each of us reached high school (where our dad Laurie is a Science Teacher and also coaches the school Canoeing Team), we began competing.
We were hooked. The exhilarating, vibrant sport of Canoe Slalom soon became a passion we all shared.
We grew up on a beef cattle property near a tiny country town called Old Bonalbo in northern NSW. In an often drought-stricken area, the closest slalom course was 3.5 hours drive away near Grafton, and it was here our parents took us for countless happy weekends of training and racing. When weekend training became insufficient, we made slalom gates out of bamboo and set them up on the farm dam, spending hours each week working on our technique and fitness, hanging out for some more whitewater!
Kate Paddling has become a way of life. We all moved to Emu Plains, Sydney, to train at the World-class Penrith Whitewater Stadium which was built for the Sydney Olympics. This was a big change from Old Bonalbo!
As elite athletes we are committed to performing at our absolute best in training and competition, which has allowed us to represent Australia. Ros training on the damOur sport takes us to Tasmania, New Zealand and Europe to compete and train – gaining valuable experience on a variety of rivers and slalom courses.
A great part of this sport is training and competing at amazing places: nature, adrenaline and great people. No river or artificial slalom course is the same. The sport is incredibly dynamic, and is technically, physically and mentally challenging.
Kate and Ros contine to base themselves in Emu Plains, generally traveling to Europe during the Australian winter months for training and racing. Jacqui has retired from the sport following her Olympic Silver Medal in 2008. She now lives with her boyfriend in Dee Why, where she enjoys the beach and has taken up ocean paddling.