Photo Credit: World Paddle Awards | Jens Thybo | Silkeborg
FINN LARSEN (Denmark) – Winner of the 2017 Lifetime Achievement Award.
After dedicating over 45 years of his life to paddlesports and the development of athletes in Denmark, Finn Larsen was awarded the Lifetime Achievement award at the World Paddle Awards ceremony last night. In a room full of paddlesport royalty, Finn’s extraordinary contribution to the sports was recognised which, by right of winning, see’s him automatically earn a seat on the World Paddle Awards Academy.
“My big thanks to all of our sponsors of course the big thanks to our Lolland Kommune who help a lot and to the Elite Center and Elite athletes. And of course big thanks to my wife Marianne who has supported me in everything,” he said.
Beginning his paddlesports career at the age of 16, Finn had no idea that 45 years later he was going to become one of the most influential paddlers in Denmark. He told the audience that when he first joined the Maribo Kayak Club he did not have any major goals in the sport, he just thought he would become a fisherman like his Grandfather.
Not long after joining the club, Finn won a series of Danish Sprint and Marathon Championships before becoming a coach, where he has since dedicated a huge amount of time to the development of athletes as well as general club work. Throughout his years as a coach Finn has been responsible for the development of many world-class athletes who were born and raised at the Maribo Kayak Club, a feat that he believes comes down to a great support system.
“In my town we have only 5000 people who live here so we have big support for training's and get the money for everything what we need because we are the big sport in town and a successful club in Denmark,” he said.
“My club Maribo has a special system for training's where we have 14 weekends in year where we training full and no rest. We have 3 training camps in a year for 2-3 weeks.”
Finn also has a big influence on the national system, with Denmark now being one of the powerhouse countries on the international stage.
“(Nationally) we have a system for coaching that has 7 centers and one Elite Center. Every year we try to do the same system for athletes to get the results from U16 to seniors paddlers.”
No matter the age, ability or results of Finn’s athletes, he is always proud of their achievements. Reaching small milestones like executing a perfect race and paddling faster than expected are accomplishments that are just as big as a victory for Finn. That’s why watching his athlete Rene Houlten Poulsen achieve these small milestones on the way to his biggest victories have been so memorable.
”I think my most memorable moment in the sport was the Olympics Games 2008. I was with Rene Houlten Poulsen who was paddling K2 1000m with Kim Wraae Knudsen and when they got the silver it was a very exciting moment for me.”
“The second moment was the 2013 Europeans Championships in Portugal with Rene because I was his coach in this year and he won the K1 1000 and 500m.”
With Finn’s passion and expertise, Kayaking in Denmark will undoubtedly continue to set and reach new milestones for years to come. The World Paddle Awards congratulates Finn on this award and his inclusion into the WPA Academy.