TIP camp prepares athletes for Olympic dreams

Photo : www.canoeicf.com
www.canoeicf.com|14-Aug-2019 12:50

The “TIP family” is preparing as a unified team in Hungary for the 2019 ICF Canoe Sprint and Paracanoe World Championships.

The talent development project run jointly by the International Canoe Federation (ICF) and the Hungarian Canoe Federation was established four years ago. The participants of the project are constantly developing, and many of them have the chance to win an Olympic quota this year.

In 2020 Tokyo will host the first Summer Olympic Games where the women’s canoe event is included in the Olympic programme. ICF’s TIP project was launched four years ago in order to support the development of women’s canoe, but since then, men’s canoe and kayak athletes have been also included in the programme.

The project consists of a month-long training camp organised by the Hungarian Canoe Federation two times a year, where 45 athletes from 27 countries are trained by excellent Hungarian coaches.

“In recent years the ICF and the Hungarian Canoe Federation have given all the support for the athletes, who have taken part or are currently taking part in the TIP programme,” András Szabó, the Hungarian head of the project, said.

“People with different cultural and religious backgrounds are sticking together and working in an amazing atmosphere. Basically, our project functions now as a big family, and our athletes are very motivated and getting more and more successful. For instance, our North Korean and Vietnamese athletes have a clear chance to win an Olympic quota in Szeged, and in case this happens, it will be a historical moment for every one of us.”

Apart from the atmosphere, the conditions are also excellent in the camp. The coaching team includes Olympic champion canoeist Imre Pulai, nine-times world champion Tímea Paksy, and László Tóth, former coach of Olympic champion Gabriella Szabó, who has just started working with the women and men kayakers. Apart from coaching Szabó, László Tóth also also spent many years working abroad. 

“I love coaching when I can get to know new cultures at the same time,” Tóth said.

“I enjoy working with these athletes, because I can see that they are very excited about the work we do. They never complain, but they ask many questions and are eager to learn; so I can only say positive things about the team.

"The camp is also organised in an outstanding way, all the participants received almost new Nelo and Plastex boats for the world championships from the manufacturers, and the lodging, the water conditions and the food are all excellent.”

The groups spend a month together two times a year. This year they had a three-week training camp in Hungary before the World Cup in Duisburg, to where they travelled together, and now they will take part in the world championships in Szeged after working together for three weeks in Budapest. 

“We are like a national team at the competitions,” Imre Pulai said, who is the coach of the men’s canoeists.

“We pay attention to the athletes getting on water on time, we collect their bib numbers, we set their boats and help them with technical advices.”

Foreign coaches also take part in the project, who mainly come to Hungary to learn. According to Imre Pulai, there are some athletes who will also use the knowledge gained in the camp as a coach in the future.

“Now they compete for 4-5 years more, but they might never reach the Olympics. However, they may be coaches in the future, who could recruit potential athletes in their home countries, and change the lives of 20-30 children from less fortunate backgrounds through sport.

"If this happens, our work was not in vain.”