CanoeSport presents the interview with the Kiwi star, who participated in the Olympics 2016.
In September 2011 Mike became just the fourth New Zealander to qualify to the Olympic Games. At the 2012 Summer Olympics in London he competed in the K1 event finishing in 15th place after being eliminated in the semifinals. Four years later in Rio de Janeiro he made the final and finished in 10th place in the K1 event.
Mike is an experienced expedition paddler, having paddled rivers in Mexico, the USA, Africa, Europe. In 2010, and again in 2012, he won first place in the extreme-whitewater Green River Narrows Race in North Carolina, USA.
How did you get into canoe slalom? Since what age did you begin to paddle? Why have you chosen this sport? Did you try yourself in the other sports?
I got into Canoe Slalom through my high school & my brother. My brother already raced so it seemed like a cool idea to do something similar. I started paddling at about 13 years old. I really loved slalom. I really enjoyed the water, the speed of rivers and heading out into nature so kayaking seemed like a good progression. At school I swam, played hockey, skiied and ran a bit.
What are your goals for the next year? What are you doing now?
Right now we’re on break after the Olympics and I’m heading to Pakistan to try and run the Indus River. It’s an exciting time as we get a chance to do a lot of things we don’t have time for during the season. My goals for the next year are to get back in shape, keep loving what I do and try to race as best I can. I’m looking forward to the Canoe Slalom season!
In your opinion what are the strongest teams in the world? What are their advantages?
In slalom the best teams in the world are Czech and Germans. They’re fast and aggressive. They both operate completely differently in terms of their training models but seem to benefit from working together to progress.
What do you enjoy doing in your free time? What are your favourite activities and hobbies?
I love film making and photography. So in my freetime I try to do as much of that as I can. I also love traveling and running rivers around the world.
How do you get ready for the race? Do you feel nervous? How do you overcome anxiety and fear?
For sure I am nervous. It’s always like that, it’s the event that you’ve trained for for a long time. But mostly I just try to enjoy what I’m doing out there which is pretty easy in canoe slalom. During the Olympics I didn’t feel nervous at any stage, just excited to race!
What do you love most about canoe slalom? If you don’t like something – tell about it as well.
I love the friends and vibe around the river. I also enjoy how cut throat it is, such a dynamic sport.
I don’t like it when the course designers try hard to be original and end up making something that just isn’t cool, for example the low poles & the subjectivity of being a judged sport.
Do you think that your team is friendly and kayakers are close to each other? Is the crew big? Can you enumerate all the people from the crew except the sportsmen? I mean the doctor, massage therapist еtс.
Our team in NZ is fairly small in comparison with our global counterparts. We’re basically just a team of Luuka Jones, our coach Campbell Walsh & myself. We have a great atmosphere, and support each other.
What is your main life-achievement for today?
I’m not sure at all. Just enjoying my life.
Do you need motivation to love sport and do your best? What is the best motivation for the young sportsmen? Wish something to the young kayakers!
I don’t need motivation, I love training and getting out there. My biggest advice to the young paddlers is just find your own style and get confident with it. Don’t feel like you have to copy – there’s no right or wrong way to paddle slalom so just go hard!
Where are your friends from? You may say «Hello» to them!
I’m lucky to have a lot of close friends from all over the globe. We all love the sport, but have great times off the water drinking a few beers or getting out and doing other stuff.
Have you heard about CanoeSport?
Yip – enjoy reading and watching the content you create!
Mike Dawson special for CanoeSport.