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Nottingham’s National Water Sports Centre sees off global competition to be selected host for 2021 World Freestyle Canoeing Championship

Published: 30 May 2017

The National Water Sports Centre at Holme Pierrepont, Nottingham, has seen off fierce global competition to be selected as the host venue for the 2021 World Freestyle Canoeing Championship, marking the first time the event will have been held in Great Britain for three decades.

Rivals bidding to host the 2021 championship included venues in Germany and Slovakia, but judges at the International Canoeing Federation chose Nottingham’s National Water Sports Centre as the winning bid due to the quality of its world-class facilities. The last time the World Freestyle Championships were held in Great Britain was as far back as 1991, when the event was held in South Wales.

It is expected that around 300 of the world’s best freestyle paddlers will converge on the site to compete at the prestigious event for the right to be called World Freestyle Canoeing Champion. Freestyle canoeing is a white-water sport in which paddlers use waves and water holes to perform surf and gymnastic-style manoeuvres and tricks, gaining points for every different rotation they perform. Competition runs last for 45 seconds, in which competitors have to perform as many different moves as possible.

Managed by Serco on behalf of Nottinghamshire County Council, the National Water Sports Centre is the home base of British Canoeing, and is used for training by many of the top Team GB canoeists from the Olympic and Paralympic squads. The Centre houses a 700m White Water Course which was purpose built to allow elite athletes to train and compete at the highest level. The course is a remarkable feat of engineering as it is gravity-fed by the River Trent, making it environmentally friendly, with no need for electric pumps. As a result, the course flows 24 hours a day, with floodlights ensuring it can be used by athletes for training at any time.  

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Steve Nelson, Partnership Director at Serco said:

“We are immensely proud that the National Water Sport Centre has been chosen to host this prestigious event. As the judges recognised, the facilities we have here are a truly world-class and they are a huge asset both to Nottingham and to Great Britain. We’re very excited to be hosting some of the world’s best athletes and hope to welcome lots of spectators to cheer on Team GB.”

Claire O’Hara is the most successful female freestyle paddler of all time and an eight time world champion. She regularly trains at the National Water Sports Centre and was thrilled to hear the news:

“This is fantastic news for British freestyle paddlers. We have been one of the leading forces in freestyle for a long time and without a doubt, this is in part to do with the incredible training facilities in Nottinghamshire.

This is going to be a huge opportunity for us to showcase our sport and nation’s talent.”


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