Paddling for Gold

Paddling for Gold

If you can’t beat them, join them. An old adage perhaps, but one which proved to be particularly fortuitous for Emergency Consultant Mrs Ursula Mackintosh who is now a world class kayaker. She decided to dip her toe into the water at the tender age of 35 when she married a competitive canoeist!

“To begin with, eight year olds beat me, but that doesn’t matter. It was two or three years before I could compete at any level.”

Mrs Mackintosh won a gold medal in the British Marathon Kayak Championships for the women’s over 44 age group, at the end of August this year. A month later she won a bronze medal in the women’s over-50, both in double kayak (K2) category at the World Marathon Kayak Championships in Copenhagen.

In the build-up to the Nationals, Mrs Mackintosh – who says she was the worst imaginable at sport at school, where it was all team events, throwing and catching balls – trained on the water five or six times a week. She paddles the River Forth in Stirling, where she says she has seen seal, porpoises, otter and 14 species of birds.

”It’s the pleasure of being in the countryside, enjoying the fresh air, seeing the birds and animals, and feeling fit.” she says.

The owner of two single racing boats, one for flat water and one for rivers, and two doubles for the same categories, she advocates that anyone thinking of taking up the sport could join a local club where they could get to use beginner kayaks. The nearest racing club to Forth Valley is in Linlithgow.

The key to success, she says, is a mixture of training and having the mechanics of the paddle stroke as good as they can be. She admits it helps to be strong but says when it comes to kayaking the more you train the stronger you get.

So what of the future? “I’d like to keep fit and keep training. At the World Championships the oldest age group is 80 plus and you have to be able to paddle 18 kilometres. I’m hoping to be able to continue until I become an octogenarian – but that’s a long way off!”

Winter 2013 News, Our People