Rediscovering love for white water against all odds
Lee Valley White Water Centre
Nick Kay was inspired to get back into kayaking after watching the canoe slalom event during London 2012. Nick is now an active member of Lee Valley Paddlesports Club and attends paddling expeditions around the UK.
It nearly did not happen. At age 19, a motorcycle accident left Nick with a serious leg injury and reduced mobility, though he always took his fitness seriously and was a regular at the gym.
That changed in 2012 when the cost of his personal trainer jumped so Nick was looking for a new sport that would offer full body exercise, but still allowed him to sit down. As paddling is great for the legs and core muscles, it was a natural choice.
Nick became a member of Lee Valley Paddlesports Club and it was not long before he decided to try for the Legacy Loop assessment. “I passed in 2013, and it was so much fun,” he says. He followed this with the Olympic Standard Competition Course assessment in 2019. While his leg injury still makes it a challenge to roll his boat upright following a capsize, the safe training environment at Lee Valley White Water Centre has helped Nick to improve his paddling skills to a point where he has been able to participate in his university club’s overseas trips with greater confidence.
Some mobility challenges remain and getting in and out of the boat is tricky. “Lee Valley’s ramps make a big difference,” says Nick. “The travellators certainly help, as does the parking and the accessible changing rooms with their handgrips and seats. The people at Lee Valley are also very helpful.”