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Dan Watkins

Tasmania's Olympic Kayaker

Dan Watkins - Tasmania Olympic KayakerDan is Tasmania’s home-grown Olympic hero, placing 10th in the C-1 slalom kayaking in the Tokyo Olympics. He is also one of only a few male athletes to compete in both the C1 and K1 events internationally. We were very excited to chat to him recently and ask about his Olympic experience. 

What was your favourite Tokyo Olympic experience?

Definitely my semi final run. The qualifications were all nerves for me. But by the time I got into the semi final it was all excitement. And to finish of the semi final run and to go straight into the lead by a huge time margin and automatically qualify for the Olympic final was an absolute dream. The support and excitement from all over the world and the response I got from Tasmanians between the semi final and final was really special.

What did your average training week look like leading into the Tokyo Olympics?

Closer to Tokyo the training wasn't very heavy and focused on white water skills as we travelled around Europe. But my time in Tasmania from selection in February 2020 until going overseas in May 2021 was very heavy. I had 11-14 sessions a week. About three gyms, two hot yogas and at least one trail run; with the rest being a mix of flat water and white water training. And I really challenged myself in the winter months by trying to cram all sessions into the weekdays, training 4 times a day sometimes so I could free up my weekends to go creekboating for fun when the rivers were high!

What is the hardest thing about traveling the world compete at the highest level?

In the last year negotiating COVID and the various restriction with travel and border crossings and quarantine has been tough. But always; the hardest thing is getting kayaks on airlines. With competition slalom boats at 350cm getting an airline to take you where you are going without costing an arm or a leg is always challenging.

Dan Watkins - Tasmania's Olympic kayak heroYour best paddling tip for novice paddler for kayaking?

Get involved in your local canoe club in whatever discipline you are trying to get into. They will be able to help you get started and if they don't have a tailored program for the discipline you enjoy they are sure to know who can.

What is your favourite Tasmanian wilderness adventure?

I have a lot of love for the southwest, and have been recently enjoying hiking around the Lake Pedder area. I've not had time to get out too deep for more then 2 or 3 days between training but this summer I'm looking at a week traverse of the Frankland range (west of Lake Pedder) with a kayak leg on the lake.


Dan Watkins - Kayaking at the Tokyo Olympics