New chapter for Lee Valley Worlds – Planet Canoe

Same valuable content – new location and channel

Canoe Slalom ICF Lee Valley World Championships
The author, John Gregory tweeting from Lee Valley via @PlanetCanoe. Photo courtesy of Neil Proctor

The ICF Canoe Slalom World Championships marked the next step in this journey, first taking this blog to in January 2013 and now to the ICF Planet Canoe website plus @PlanetCanoe Twitter account. I’m again very honoured. With the UK’s Daily Telegraph dedicating a shameful 21 words to David Florence’s latest World Championship title I am very grateful that we now have control of the delivery of content! Congratulations to our new Cane Slalom World Champions.

I provided a preview article to the ICF called 10 pointers for canoe slalom showdown. I must compliment the ICF on the way in which they have improved their live results, athlete interviews and live feed video through the Planet Canoe YouTube Channel. It is great to continue working alongside Matthew Leighton.

Through the great World Championships at Lee Valley I posted 673 tweets through @PlanetCanoe. Although there were two somewhat competing hashtags being promoted through the event, we generated 3,175 with #ICFslalom during the week which generated 10 million impressions on the last day alone. Interestingly, those which referenced the UK BBC TV Blue Peter presenter challenge with Russ Smith & Tim Baillie on the course actually generated the most timeline deliveries and retweets!!

Here you can read my post race analysis called 10 insightful facts about the Lee Valley Worlds

You can view my updated consolidated table of canoe slalom champions, updated September 25, 2015. Consolidated summary of key race winners 25.09.15

Here is a link to the latest 2015-4 ICF World Rankings.

2015 ICF Canoe Slalom season preview

Al Ain photo courtesy of Richard Houslow
Al Ain photo courtesy of Richard Hounslow

Here is my 2015 season preview posted on Sportscene.

If you are an accomplished slalom paddler then good luck this season and alternatively if you are completely new to canoeing then I hope the above post encourages you to pick up a paddle for the first time. Happy reading.

The articles includes interviews with the Brazil team ahead of he Junior/ U23 World Championships, James Cartwright of Canoe-Kayak Canada ahead of the Pan American Games, Paul Owen, British Canoeing Chief Executive ahead of the Senior World Championships at Lee Valley as well as a variety of the top paddlers.

I will be providing live race tweets for the Pan Am Games, Lee Valley Worlds and through the World Cup races using #ICFslalom all season. Follow me @gregiej

Click here to see the 2014 reigning champions

Thrilling first day at Lee Valley for GB Selection

The full article with results and points is available now on the Sportscene website .

David Florence sets the pace at Lee Valley for GB 2013 team selection

Selection for the Great Britain canoe slalom team continued today at Lee Valley in Hertfordshire, where more than 1,000 tickets have been sold to the weekend races. David Florence, this time in C1 in which he won a silver medal at the Beijing Olympics again demonstrated his mastery of this water with an impressive run on the Lee Valley White Water Centre course. This event follows two weeks after the first two selection events at the Holme Pierrepont artificial slalom course in West Bridgford, Nottingham. The athletes racing for selection to the Great Britain senior and U23 teams are ranked at the end based on points from their best three results from the four races. The fourth and last selection race is on a tricky new course at Lee Valley tomorrow (Sunday April 28th).  In many classes there is still much to play for and the paddlers wil again be aiming for fast and clean runs.

Scotland’s Fiona Pennie now living close to Lee Valley winner of race 3

It was great to see Fiona Pennie close to her best form with a commanding second run to lift her to win at Lee Valley and secure two wins from the three selection races so far this month. It was in a new boat to which she has had only one week to get accustomed; successfully clearly! These selection races determine the senior paddlers (3 boats per class) that will be eligible to compete at the World Championships in Prague in September as well as the European Championships and World Cup races across Europe this summer. A separate under 23 (U23) team of paddlers will also be selected for separate World and European championships.   Tune in tomorrow to watch. Live results are available at or visit the GB Canoeing website John @gregiej

GB Canoe Slalom Final Selection Event – Lee Valley April 27 – 28

This weekend (April 27-28) at Lee Valley marks the exciting culmination of the GB Canoeing Canoe Slalom Selection Trials series 2013. Last year’s selection races were tremendously exciting at this wonderful Lee Valley White Water Centre in Herfordshire, which was the venue for the state of the art Olympic canoe slalom. You saw some of the paddlers including gold and silver medalists in C2 competing in the Olympics and after the first two selection events this final selection trial is looking very tight. The two days of selections decide the GB Canoeing team for the 2013 World Championships, World Cup series, European Championships and U23 championships.

More details are available from the GB Canoeing website, where you can find links to buy tickets, or through the home nation websites. Tickets will be available at the venue.

I will be bringing you live results here as well as through the and International Canoe Federation Cardiff World Cup website

Great Britain's Richard Hounslow in K1M focussed on advancing to the semi-finals (photo courtesy of Michael Barnett)
Great Britain’s Richard Hounslow in K1M focussed on advancing to the semi-finals (photo courtesy of Michael Barnett)


London2012: The Real Legacy has Begun

A GB Canoeing sponsored initiative to inspire the next generation of Canoe Slalom paddlers has started at the Olympic Lee Valley venue just north of London. Here is a taster of what the initiative aims to achieve and how the first sessions have gone.

Here is the link to the latest article posted on Sportscene website

Last night was the 2nd Wednesday session, third overall on the Legacy Channel at Lee Valley with the 9-16 year old aspiring new slalom paddlers.

GB Canoeing Canoe Slalom Club Coaching sessions
GB Canoeing Canoe Slalom Club Coaching sessions


Lee Valley from water’s level

After writing about Lee Valley for the anticipated Olympic canoe slalom races for more than two years, I finally had the opportunity to view it from water level. The Olympic course is harder than if looks! It is tiring, the drops are big and visibility down a pending drop is very limited so in slalom you would really have to know your exact line. I was surprised how boily the sides of the course are.

I have been asked to contribute to the ICF Planet Canoe, describing this use of social media in communicating Olympic canoeing.


It was observed that my boat is a little long!

2012 World Cup Series Standings

World Cup 1 in Cardiff (photo courtesy of Michael Barnett)

The five series 2012 World Cup series wound up in Bratislava at the end of July.

The respective World Cup winners in all five classes were:

K1M – Etienne Daille, France

K1W – Ursa Kragelj, Slovenia

C1M – Alexander Slafkovsky, Slovakia

C1W – Rosalyn Lawrence, Australia

C2 – Pierre Labarelle & Nicolas Peschier, France

Off the London2012 Olympians, Jana Dukatova from Slovakia after missing out on a medal on the Lee Valley course, won both the Prague and Bratislava World Cup races.

It is anticipated that there will be several Olympian’s retiring in the aftermath of London 2012. These are as yet unknown but could potentially include Stepanka Hilgertova, Helmut Oblinger, David Ford, Campbell Walsh, may be also Michal Martikan who designed the 4th World Cup race in Prague immediately after the Olympics but did not complete in either race.

More news will follow as it is confirmed.

The Olympic Lee Valley Whitewater Centre is now open to the public. It will be the site of the ICF World Championships in 2015. In the more immediate future the 1st World Cup race returns to Cardiff Whitewater centre in 2013.

Using Social Media for the 2012 Olympic Canoe Slalom

Blog author – John Gregory

I embarked upon a social media experiment for the London2012 Olympics. I have been a writer and commentator on canoe slalom for more than 25 years and volunteered to write a daily blog on canoe slalom as a feed for several sports websites. This was my contribution to the Olympics in raising awareness of our incredible, exhilarating sport of canoe slalom. Here is an account of what transpired and what can be learnt from the exercise.

I have been an early adopter of social media starting with Facebook, LinkedIn and Flickr in 2007, blogs starting from 2008, Twitter in 2009 and more recently Google+. The blog was published through WordPress, which I had used in other work related areas. Each post was on a different topic related to international canoe slalom and I was working a couple of days ahead. Each post was about 500-1000 words with about 3 photographs. The blog ran for 31 days with 42 posts during between July 2nd and August 3rd. I posted live text from an iPad at the venue at the end of each class during the semi-finals and finals. The blog resulted in over 6000 views, with 743 on the last day of the Olympic canoe slalom event at Lee Valley Whitewater Centre.

The most searched item was Jessica Fox, the 18 year old Australian who won silver in the K1W – kayak single women class, followed by in order; Lee Valley, canoe slalom & Hannes Aigner, who won a bronze medal for Germany in K1M – men’s single kayak class. The number of views on the sports websites is unknown. The greatest number of referrals was through Google by a huge margin, followed by , followed by Facebook and Twitter. The daily blog posts and multiple posts on the day of the finals and Team GB Gold & Silver medals meant that the blog came up multiple times in the first page of Google if searching for canoe slalom. So frequency of blog or website updates has a hugely significant effect on search engine optimization, as suggested by Eileen Brown in her book, ‘Working the Crowd’ and also in a guide ‘Going Social  – Tapping into Social Media for Nonprofit Success’

There were 215 tags. Top posts were; home page, Lee Valley venue, Spectators Guide, What to expect & Canoe Slalom from behind the lens. Top click-through’s were to the blog URL, London2012, and International Canoe Federation . The tribute to Martyn Hedges received the most comments from several Olympian and paddlers at World Championships who had personally known Martyn. My own favourite post was the ‘My Ultimate Run’. In all the years of canoe slalom media I can never think that I have read an article written in the first person on what it ‘feels’ like to paddle a slalom race at this level. It was a fun piece of creative writing.

I publicized the blog through Twitter, Facebook and Linked. It was regularly retweeted including by BBC Sport. The most spectacular photography was made available to me by Michael Barnett, Antony Edmonds, Rob van Bommel  and various other individuals and this added a professional look and depth to the quality of the posts.

How does this relate to the business world?

Over the years much of what I have learnt in the use of social media in business has come from my experiences of using social media in sport and charitable organisations. On this occasion, I have used more tags than ever before, seen the impact of these and the frequency of updates on search engine optimisation. I used captions below each photograph. Each post has been automatically publicised in Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.  I also spent time reviewing the daily, weekly and month to date stats, which was exciting and motivating.

John Gregory August 28th 2012


The Lee Valley canoe slalom legacy

Wow, what a legacy! Note to self – buy all of the newspapers!

Today’s last post is dedicated to the service of those who have invested the last few years of their lives to pull off the greatest canoe slalom show on earth. There really has been two Team GB’s: one dedicated to performance excellence with the athletes and one dedicated to those that have delivered the highest level competition venues. There have been challenges and disappointments along the way but this should not detract from what has been achieved. You should now all be incredibly proud.

The Times cover Friday August 3 2012

There have been 800 people behind the scenes at the venue on race days. A core team of 11 led by Canoe Manager, John MacLeod (1972 Canoe Slalom Olympian) have worked full-time for several years to bring this competition together. I want to recognise and acknowledge what they have achieved. They are: Elaine Skilton (Canoe Services Manager), Colin Woodgate (Canoe Slalom Technical Operations Manager), Kelly Rainey (Slalom Admin Services Group Leader), Tamsin Phipps (Canoe International Federation Group Leader), Natalie Sandmann (Slalom Athlete and Team Services Group Leader, Debbie Littlehales (Slalom Sports Information Group Leader), Dave Royle (Slalom Field of Play Group Leader), Julien Gaspard (Slalom Sports Equipment Group Leader), Jacky Brookes (Slalom Technical Officials Group Leader) and Paskell Blackwell(Slalom Field of Play Safety Group Leader). The Venue General Manager of the Lee Valley Whitewater Centre is Paul Valkovics (see We were delighted to welcome two Royal Air Force Squadrons to provide security for the games; Royal Air Force Regiment Queen Colour Squadron (63) Northholt and 2 Squadron Honnington Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, as well as all the emergency services inside and beyond the immediate venue. There are so many others including Lee Valley, British Canoe Union CEO Paul Owen, GBCanoeing and their headline sponsor Tesco.

The Daily Telegraph Friday August 3, 2012 pages 4-5

The immediate post Olympics is a key decision point for athletes and teams. For the athletes, whether to commit to another four year cycle. For the Gold medallist, Molmenti, Estanguet, Fer and Ballie/Stott whether to now bow out on a high or commit to the next four year cycle. London2012 has been Hilgertova’s 6th Olympics and Oblinger’s 5th. Some of the paddlers will retire and move to be part of coaching staff in either their own National Federation or for oversees athletes. From a British perspective also the decision whether to permanently relocate the canoe slalom to Lee Valley or return to the base in Nottingham. There is currently no canoe slalom club at Lee Valley and several athletes and coaches see this as a next logical step to build a legacy from Lee Valley.

The ICF Canoe Slalom World Championships are confirmed at Lee Valley for 2015. Given the enormous UK interest generated in the sport can we argue for a 5-10,000 seater stadium for 2015. Recalling the 1995 World’s in Nottingham it was primarily attended by athletes, coaches, managers, officials, friends and family plus only a few hundred members of the public who may have
found themselves stumbling upon the race. It did have BBC and Eurosport TV coverage and this helped inspire a new generation of paddlers. This year is not yet over in the International Canoe Slalom calendar with two World Cup races remaining. The 2013 World Championships will be super exciting. They are back at the Prague Troja artificial canoe slalom course.

It was incredible to see the old guard in the stands or alongside the course, previous Olympic medallists such as Gareth Marriott, Lisa Micheler-Jones, Scott Shipley, Thomas Schmidt, Pierepaolo Ferrazzi, Paul Ratcliffe, Helen Reeves and Campbell Walsh as well as other Olympian’s; Nick Smith, Mark Delaney, Melvyn Jones, Ian Raspin, Rachel Crosbee, Chris Arrowsmith, Paul Brain and Miriam Jerusalmi-Fox and coaches Hugh Mantle, Ken Langford and Alan Edge.  At the same time there were Great Britain junior and U23 team paddlers cheering on their role models and thousands of club slalom paddlers and recreational canoeists. Our hope is that London2012 really will inspire a next generation of Olympians. Lee Valley was voted by LOCOG based on a spectator exit poll as the best Olympic venue. Helen Reeves was also voted as one of the best TV commentators. Kev McHugh, Andy Maddock and Randy Ferguson brought the venue alive with some high energy live commentary. We encourage everyone to come back for the ICF World Canoe Slalom Championships in 2015 again here at Lee Valley.

Before rounding off, a most overwhelming congratulations to all 83 paddlers, our 15 London2012 Olympic medallists and to Performance Director, John Anderson MBE on behalf of GB Canoeing staff. A vision has been realized!  We have a World Class venue in London & South East of England, Olympic Gold in canoe slalom, Olympic C2 medals and a media spotlight on this most amazing sport.

This is THE picture of the whole Olympic canoe slalom event. It captures everything we have dreamed of and what has been achieved. Congratulations. L-R Nick Smith, Etienne Stott, Mark Delaney, Richard Hounslow, David Florence & Tim Baillie. Photo courtesy of Antony Edmonds AE Photos

It has been an absolute privilege to bring you this daily blog over the last month, which has generated almost 5,000 direct views. It has provided an encyclopaedia of canoe slalom for London2012. I would like to acknowledge a bunch of people who have helped me along the way in no particular order, they are: Michael Barnett (MB23 Photography), Antony Edmonds (AE Photos), Rob van Bommel (Sportscene), Tony Tickle (although not up to the expected standard!) and Craig Morris for permission to use photographs and Nick Smith, Chris Arrowsmith, Gareth Marriott, Elaine Skilton, Anne Hounslow, Jimmy Jayes, Russ Smith, Colin Woodgate and others for some facts, figures and opinions. Finally for the links and newsfeeds on,,, Ollie Williams BBC Sport and TalkSport. Much appreciated guys.

Tell everyone you know in the UK to buy a newspaper today. I hope you pick up a paddle. Visit For now, au revoir.