THREE years after taking up outrigger paddling, Echuca’s Matt Walsh will head to Tahiti next month to represent his country.
Walsh, a year 12 student at St Joseph’s College, is part of Australia’s under 19 six-person team contesting the IVF Va’a World Distance Championships from June 27-30.
He said the chance to test his skills against the world’s best paddlers was exciting, with his first trip overseas an added bonus.
‘‘It’s pretty cool. I can’t complain with a trip overseas and I miss a bit of school too,’’ Walsh said.
‘‘It’s going to be exciting but it will be interesting to see how we fare against a lot of the other countries.
‘‘I reckon we’ll do all right and we’re a pretty good chance to win, to be honest.’’
Walsh took up paddling through a school competition and continued to pursue the sport after.
And on experiencing his first ocean race, he knew he had chosen the right sport.
‘‘When I did my first ocean race, it was like nothing I’d ever done before,’’ Walsh said.
‘‘When you ride waves on the canoe it’s just such a great feeling. That was in Tasmania in the first big race I did, and from there I just loved it.’’
A member of the Echuca Moama Canoe Club, Walsh trains on the water five or six times a week, with an extra few running and gym sessions.
‘‘It’s normally about 16 kilometres a session but on weekends I do 20 to 24 kilometres,’’ he said.
And the long-distance training will need to pay off for Walsh and his teammates, with the V6 event in Tahiti a 27 kilometre race.
‘‘I’ve raced with the team before in a few different races,’’ Walsh said.
‘‘The most recent was (on May 20) in the National Marathon Titles up at Mooloolaba.
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