Olympic kayaker's mum sticks her paddle in

20:00, Jul 30 2012
Eagle eye: Mike Dawson’s mother, Kay Dawson, working as a judge on gate 5. She is signalling where to go for a competitor.
EAGLE EYE: Mike Dawson’s mother, Kay Dawson, working as a judge on gate 5. She is signalling where to go for a competitor.

Trying to make an Olympic final is tough enough without your mum sticking her oar in.

Kiwi kayaker Mike Dawson has to contend with mother Kay being one of the judges at his K1 slalom event - and yesterday she pinged him for touching a gate.

He still made it through to the semifinals at the Lee Valley White Water Centre in northeast London, despite the 2-second penalty, and was able to laugh off his mum's intervention.

ALL FOCUS: Mike Dawson of New Zealand competes during the men’s kayak (K1) canoe slalom on day 2 of the London Olympics.
ALL FOCUS: Mike Dawson of New Zealand competes during the men’s kayak (K1) canoe slalom.

“Mum is super into it," Dawson, from Tauranga, said. "In fact I don't think she even knows when I'm coming through.

“I hit it [gate 5] and she gave me my touch. I wasn't sure it was a touch, so we'll sort that one out later.

“I am stoked she is here judging, and the sport is set up in a way that it has no impact on the result.”

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There was another kayaker competing this week, whose father was a boat scrutineer.

There were so many sets of eyes and television cameras present that there was no room for bias, he said.

“Her judge's call is only one of three for the gate, so if she calls something that is totally not right, she is overridden. And me, personally, I would be ashamed if there was any discrepancy.”

The Olympic committee and the International Canoe Federation are comfortable with the family connection, with the ICF saying it is no different to gate judges ruling on competitors from their own country.

It issued a statement yesterday, saying the judging process was thorough and stringent and did not provide any possibility for a single individual to affect the outcome of a competitor's run.

"If it were an issue, then the ICF technical committee would never have proposed Kay Dawson as a judge for the Olympic Games in the first place.”

Kay Dawson also issued a statement, saying: “As an ICF Olympic judge, there is a clear line of separation between paddlers and officials.

“I've been officiating for a number of years now and know a lot of the athletes, so it is easy to put aside any personal emotions when I'm on the course.”

Dawson, who is ranked 50th in the world, qualified eighth fastest for tomorrow's semifinals on the back of his clear second run in 88.58sec.

Fifteen paddlers will contest the semi, with the fastest 10 progressing to the final.

Fairfax Media