After a spur of the moment decision to try kayaking three years ago, Ashlee Ilott had no idea how far she would come in such a short time frame.
The 16-year-old Bendigo Canoe Club member initially took to the water at a try out session and “I haven’t really stopped since”.
“I read an email from the Bendigo Sports Academy about some kayak try outs and really enjoyed it,” Ilott said.
Ilott enjoys all elements of paddling, whether it be chasing an adrenaline rush in a sprint or relaxing in the great outdoors while leisurely cruising along the water.
“When you’re out on the water it’s amazing, it’s a feeling like nothing you have experienced before,” Ilott said.
“I just can’t get enough of it.”
Ilott will compete in the Adelaide Canoe Sprint Grand Prix 1 this weekend at West Lakes in South Australia.
An event she has competed in before, and it’s the one she looks forward to the most each year on the paddling calendar.
“It’s a no-brainer to go to Adelaide,” Ilott said.
“I’ve always competed in it and will continue to for as long as I possibly can.”
In previous years one of her best results at a paddling event is a 49 second finish in a 200m sprint.
At the 2018 GP1 Ilott will compete in multiple K1 sprints across various distance categories, K2 sprints with her South Australian teammate and K4 where she will be part of a larger team.
“I’m so excited about it,” Ilott said.
Ilott and her family have chosen to make the trek to Adelaide via road and will take her signature pink kayak to ensure she will be competing with equipment she is familiar with.
As in all sports, there are always multiple challenges which kayakers must overcome to be able to succeed on the water.
“Things such as maintaining balance is one of the first things you need to learn, as well as focusing on using the correct technique to ensure you’re able to reduce any possibility of injuring yourself,” Ilott said.
“Juggling study, training and part-time work is also key to time management.”
But the biggest challenge of all for outdoor sports is of course the one thing which is outside of anyone’s control, the weather.
“Dealing with weather can be unpredictable, especially when you’re battling strong side winds and when it’s extremely hot,” Ilott said.
Paddlers from throughout Australia will compete at the Adelaide Canoe Sprint Grand Prix 1 this weekend at West Lakes from December 7-9 in various categories.
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