Training hard on the local waterway

CANOEISTS hoping to compete in the Olympic and Paralympic games in Tokyo later this year can be spotted training hard on the Wey Navigation at West Byfleet.

Becky Pemble, who hopes to compete for Great Britain in Tokyo, training with her father, Doug. Pictures by Bob Holmes

They are among the rowing enthusiasts pictured by New & Mail photographer Bob Holmes on a visit to the Parvis Wharf section of the canal.

Tim Lodge is preparing for selection next month for a place in the Great Britain Paralympic team and can be found on the water most days.

Tim Lodge powers his canoe along the Wey Navigation

Tim, a member of Guildford Canoe Club who lives in Worplesdon, took up canoeing seriously in 2013 and two years later won a bronze medal in the world championships.

He was born with a severe case of club feet and had 30 operations up to the age of 14 to correct the abnormalities. He has also overcome being serious injured in a road crash during a “healthy holiday” in Sri Lanka in 2019, in which he broke his shoulder in three places, broke a rib, punctured his lung and badly damaged his knee.

Tim had enjoyed canoeing in his younger days and as a Scout, and has not looked back on accepting an invitation from the sport’s governing body to train to become a GB Paralympic canoeist.

William Bowles, 11, is a junior member of Addlestone Canoe Club and has been canoeing since the age of six

Formerly an “overweight sales director in the City, stressed and suffering from anxiety and depression and with a destructive alcohol habit”, Tim now runs a wellbeing business, giving workshops to companies.

He said he suffered mental health problems before he became a full-time athlete. The changes in his life are more important than his achievements on the water.

“This is a really lovely place to train,” he said of the canal. “The water is always the same and there is not much wind. The people here are also very friendly.

Tim spent a couple of years living in Nottingham, where he could train at the National Water Sports Centre, but is much happier after moving back to Surrey in 2017 to be closer to his mother, who had terminal cancer.

“I have been getting quicker,” he said of his training sessions. “I am better prepared physically and mentally than ever and this bit of the canal has been a great part of that.”

Adrian Tollett, from Staines, rowing his scull along the canal

Becky Pemble is a Woking College student who is also hoping to compete for Great Britain in Tokyo. A member of Addlestone Canoe Club and part of the sport’s “super regional squad”, she has won numerous medals in national competitions.

These include four silvers and a bronze medal for different distances in both singles and crewed boats in regattas at the National Water Sports Centre.

In 2019, she represented Great Britain at the Olympic Hopes competitions in Bratislava, Slovakia. She took three seconds off her personal best in the K1 (singles) 200m and made it to the finals in singles and doubles races.

Wendy Dodson, head race coach at Addlestone Canoe Club, commented: “Becky has trained very hard on the canal and has achieved some excellent results in both marathon and sprint events.”

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