Photo Credit: World Paddle Awards | Jens Thybo | Silkeborg
Written by Guy Dresser
The World Paddle Awards took place last night at a gala dinner in Silkeborg, Denmark, attended by many of the sport’s Olympic and World Championship medal-winners and scores of canoesport fans from around the world.
Stars of the evening included Australia’s 19-time World Champion Jess Fox, voted Sportswoman of the Year, the Slovenian Olympic silver medalist Peter Kauzer (watch video), who won the Sportsman of the Year category and South African 10-time World Champion Hank Mcgregor, who was inducted into the WPA Academy.
Barbara Dimovova from the Czech Republic won Junior of the Year, after a season spent dominating the women’s single kayak class in wildwater racing, including four medals at the Junior World Championships in Murau, Austria.
There was also recognition for those working behind the scenes. Photographer and journalist Nina Jelenc won Media Professional of the Year for her work at the European Canoe Association and for the International Canoe Federation’s Planet Canoe magazine.
Dennis Newton from Great Britain won the WPA’s Foundation Award for his role in coaching and growing the sport of freestyle kayaking. With over 25 World Championship medals and 30 European Championship medals, Dennis is by far one of the most medal abundant coaches in paddlesports.
A popular local winner was Denmark’s Finn Larsen, recognized with a Lifetime Achievement Award for having introduced generations of world-class athletes into canoeing and his sterling work promoting his home club Maribo Kajakklub around the world on social media.
The organizing team of the 2017 World Championships in Pau, France picked up Industry Professional of the Year after staging the ‘giant triple’, the World Championships for canoe slalom, wildwater and extreme slalom simultaneously – the first time this has ever been achieved.
There was a special award for Andre Santos, Chief Executive Officer of NELO Kayaks, the world-renowned boat maker. NELO is the world’s largest maker of competitive canoes, a WPA Partner, and a longstanding supporter of numerous top athletes worldwide. Santos received an inscribed luxury timepiece in recognition of NELO’s contribution to the sport from Canadian Olympic kayak medalist Mark de Jonge, who runs de Jonge Watch.
Rob van Bommel, founder of global paddlesports media business Sportscene and founder of the World Paddle Awards, said he was delighted with the event in Silkeborg: “The World Paddle Awards have been likened to the United Nations of paddlesports, but a much closer-knit group and without all the politics. Recognizing the contributions of organizations and individuals involved in achieving excellence helps connect people across borders and bring attention to our great sport.”
Summary winners 2017 World Paddle Awards
- Sportswoman: Jessica Fox (AUS)
- Sportsman: Peter Kauzer (SLO)
- Junior: Barbora Dimovova (CZE)
- Lifetime Achievement: Finn Larsen (DEN)
- Foundation Award: Dennis Newton (GBR)
- Media Professional: Nina Jelenc (SLO)
- Industry Professional: Pau 2017 - ICF World Championships Canoe Slalom and Wildwater Canoeing (FRA)
- Academy Award: Hank McGregor (RSA)
Industry Professional Award presented by Richard Fox with Jean Zoungrana (microphone), Clemence Mathieu and Christophe Prigent. Photo Credit: World Paddle Awards | Jens Thybo | Silkeborg
Media Professional Award presented by Guy Dresser with Nina Jelenc. Photo Credit: World Paddle Awards | Jens Thybo | Silkeborg
The Foundation Award presented by Julie Pearce with Dennis Newton. Photo Credit: World Paddle Awards | Jens Thybo | Silkeborg
Junior of the Year presented by Jessica Fox with Barbora Dimovova. Photo Credit: World Paddle Awards | Jens Thybo | Silkeborg
Lifetime Achievement Award presented by Ole Torp with Finn Larsen. Photo Credit: World Paddle Awards | Jens Thybo | Silkeborg
Sportswoman of the Year presented by Andre Santos with Jessica Fox. Photo Credit: World Paddle Awards | Jens Thybo | Silkeborg
The Academy Award presented by Ivan Lawler with Hamk McGregor. Photo Credit: World Paddle Awards | Jens Thybo | Silkeborg
Video message from 2017 Sportsman Peter Kauzer. Photo Credit: World Paddle Awards | Jens Thybo | Silkeborg
About the World Paddle Awards
The World Paddle Awards (WPA) are held annually, celebrating the most remarkable men and women from the world of paddlesports along with their achievements from the previous calendar year. Now in their fourth year, the ceremony has attracted a global audience of sports fans who vote to shortlist nominees in a public ballot before the winners are chosen by the WPA Academy itself.
The winners of the awards receive The Golden Paddle, a symbol of how each discipline, even though different in sensation to many, requires a paddle used from a boat on water. The Golden Paddle is an emblem of what canoeists and kayakers have in common and depicts the Awards’ mission to unite all people and paddlesports.
The World Paddle Awards will be back again in February 2019.
Rob van Bommel