Alongside the high volume of whitewater training plus strength and conditioning of the last three months, we have been in the process of launching a not for profit organisation: The Phantom Project.
Over the coming years, this will be an endeavour to create a support structure for athletes like ourselves, who feel we are on the edge of making our national senior team. Slalom has a huge variety of athletes, with an even more versatile range of peak performance ages. A peak performance age is when an athlete reaches the height of their skill and physical capability. In slalom, this can be anywhere from the age of nineteen to late thirties.
Currently there is a slight gap in the support structure in the UK, for non-junior athletes who narrowly miss the margins of making senior team. The principle reason for founding The Phantom Project, is to create a structure that can provide services for these athletes, who want to give everything to make the final push into the elite level of senior team.
Of course creating this support structure requires investment from people who can provide these services, and as with any industry this involves financial backing. Slalom is currently still a 'smaller' sport in the UK, with fewer athletes in the premier category than in 'larger' sports such as swimming or cycling. With the success of canoe slalom in the Olympic Games, we hope to see slalom grow at every level, from recreational to high performance.
What we would like to make potential investors aware of, is the accelerating growth curve of slalom. It's a highly aesthetic, exciting sport to watch, and as we establish better viewing methods for world cups and smaller international races, the viewing figures are increasing annually. What we are offering people is an opportunity to firstly expand recognition of canoe slalom, a sport that the UK excels at. We are in the top three most successful nations in the world at it, and as we develop more ways to integrate people at a recreational level, our elite performance level will only continue to improve. It's a rapidly accelerating curve that is open for the taking - and the opportunity to jump on board and be a part of the development is approaching. Secondly, we want to develop a support structure that continues to develop qualities in people that are rarely given an opportunity to develop in any other way.
These qualities are clean minded thinking. They are persevering in the most versatile, volatile sport in the world, through successes and failures. The principle of elite canoe slalom, is to create a mindset for yourself that allows you to live absolutely in the moment, while performing at a world class level. These are the ideals that we want to reinforce and nourish, for people who would otherwise be forced to drop off in training through lack of financial support and performance structure.
As an athlete, I really do love to train. I love racing, and I love every part of what can be identified as a high performance lifestyle. I want to be part of creating a wider base for this to be possible for more people, because the opportunity to learn personal development skills is becoming increasingly important in society.
I guess the point of this post is to condense what our social media and website say about The Phantom Project. Phantom: ‘a representation of something abstract, ideal, or incorporeal.’ Project: ‘a specific plan or design'. I want to help create the specific plan that can make the abstract of this endeavour become palpable and productive. Canoe slalom is the most beautiful, difficult sport in the world, and I simply think everyone should have a go!
I have some more training and racing specific posts lined up as we enter the second half of our racing season in the UK - meanwhile, I hope everyone continues to #lovetotrain and #beyourselves. Our small slalom family is growing, and those are my two favourite bits of it!