Only one box left to tick for Beijing

THE Lawrence family of Old Bonalbo are bound for the Beijing Olympics to watch daughter Jacqui compete in the slalom kayaking event next month but they lack one big thing - tickets.

While they've booked a seat on the plane, got their passports, and will pick up Chinese visas later this week, so far, there's been no sign of the tickets to get into Jacqui's event on August 13.

The fact tickets hadn't turned up in the mail had mother Sarah Lawrence slightly worried when The Northern Star spoke to her yesterday.

“Each athlete gets two tickets for supporters and Australian Canoeing have told us that China is sending them ahead,” she said.

“But no one seems to know too much about it.”

The Lawrences have three gifted daughters making their mark in the sport of slalom kayaking.

Their youngest daughter, Roslyn, is a member of the Australian under-23 team, Kate won a World Cup event in Europe earlier this month and Jacqui will soon return from overseas to begin her final preparations for Beijing.

You'd think family allegiances would have been tested when Jacqui pipped Kate for a seat in the K1 at Olympic selections trials earlier this year, but not so according to Sarah.

“It's a tough sport where it can all go pear-shaped very easily,” she said.

“You've always got one who is happy because she has won, and one who has bombed out.

“Kate really had her set her sights on getting to the Beijing Olympics and Jacqui pipped her at the post. But that's the nature of the sport.”

It's a family sporting dynasty that all started with their father, Laurie, who coached the girls from a very early age and still runs a very popular program at Bonalbo Central School teaching kids the fundamentals of the water sport.

The Lawrences would hone their skills on family camping trips to the Clarence River and Laurie went to great lengths to build them a water course on one of the dams on their Old Bonalbo property.

“Certainly it got to the stage where they needed to train regularly and from here to the nearest rapids is 45 minutes away,” he said.

“They wanted to paddle every day so I would get them out on the flat water of the dams and built them a few gates. A few of the families have done that now.”

The girls soon got good enough they were travelling to Nymboida Canoe Centre near Grafton to practice and compete, and later went down to the Sydney Olympic venue at Penrith.

Selection on junior teams and tours to New Zealand and Europe soon followed as the girls were fast-tracked into the elite level of the sport.

Laurie was their original coach, but soon realised he didn't have the level of expertise required to further their careers.

“I was a river paddler who didn't start competing until I was 45. It wasn't until I started competing that I understood what the kids were going through.”

Laurie said he couldn't stop 'grinning' after Kate won her World Cup event in Augsburg, Germany recently and is keenly anticipating Jacqui's race in Beijing.

“It will be an incredible high, I would think,” he said. “Even the selection races earlier this year were incredible.”

  • Kate Lawrence finished fifth in the Canoe Kayak Slalom Pre-World Championship event in Spain at the weekend. She was slightly off the pace with a time of 113,94 which gave her a combined time of 224,69.

Jana Dukatova (SVK) took the gold medal in the event.

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