Youth Olympics callup

JONATHAN MCKEOWN
Last updated 12:00 22/12/2012
Tommy McDowell
RAPID DESCENT: Nayland College student Tommy McDowell, pictured competing in Poland, will represent NZ at the Australian Youth Olympic Festival.

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Canoe slalom exponent Tommy McDowell will represent New Zealand at the 2013 Australian Youth Olympic Festival next month.

McDowell, 16, was selected in the New Zealand team of 156 elite junior athletes aged between 13 and 19 years, who will compete against 1700 athletes from 30 countries in Sydney from January 16-20.

The Nayland College student took a gap year in 2012, to train and compete in Poland and to attend a Chinese high school for Mandarin language immersion. McDowell will be back at Nayland College in February, but will have some more cultural and sporting experiences to share by then.

McDowell and his fellow Kiwi athletes will be immersed in an Olympic-style experience, living in villages alongside athletes from different codes and nationalities. The premium paddler said he was thrilled to represent New Zealand alongside his peers.

"It is a really great opportunity, I am definitely excited and hopefully I can do them proud," said McDowell.

"I think it's a really nice concept, I hope it comes together and turns into something really awesome. I'm really excited to go and see the level of talent there.

"I hope I can go out to see other events."

McDowell, who is the New Zealand national under-16 champion in K1 (kayak) and C1 (canoe), said the exhilarating nature of the sport has him hooked.

"I really like the energy and the competitions. You always have to be using the water and planning your next stroke . . . you have to focus really hard when you're trying to go fast, and that is a big draw to me.

McDowell said the canoe slalom community was also very supportive, and he had made a lot of great friends through it. One such canoe comrade is Nelson College's Blake Hornblow, who will also travel to Australia to compete with the Sport New Zealand development squad at the end of this month.

The Australian Youth Olympic Festival takes place every four years, alternating with the IOC-run Youth Olympic Games.

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- The Nelson Mail

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