Etienne Stott - Olympic Gold London 2012 & Eco Warrior
Canoeing and kayaking have changed my life, but not in the way that I thought they would when I first started, and not in the way I think people might imagine when they think of an Olympic champion. My first experiences of being on the water with my buddies was in Scouts when I was around 10 years old. I enjoyed the feeling of being on the water, but what I really enjoyed was doing something different than what everyone else was doing and being with people that felt the same. When I joined my local club and started competing, I found even more people like that and added the competitive element which allowed me to channel my energy into something positive and meaningful.
Many years later, after times when my ambitions looked so distant as to be impossible, I won gold in London 2012 Olympic whitewater slalom with my crewmate Tim Baillie in the canoe doubles category. My life changed and I have had the opportunity to do all sorts of cool things and meet all sorts of cool people as a result. But that is now nearly 8 years ago. Life moves on, although I hope that people will always remember that special time in 2012. But one thing that I know will not change is my love for canoeing and kayaking. The people, the community, the family. Once you are a canoeist, you will always be a canoeist, and you will always have friends there. And the rivers, I hope, will remain places of beauty and either calming peace, or thrilling energy. The lakes and seas humble me and remind me of the scale and majesty of nature. Being on the water in a small boat, seeing the world from a different perspective is an amazing thing, and I hope more people can experience it. Get out there and have a go yourself. It may change your life in ways you cannot yet imagine!