TIME OUT: Jacqui Lawrence relaxes at the family farm at Old Bonalbo.
TIME OUT: Jacqui Lawrence relaxes at the family farm at Old Bonalbo.

Slalom kayak medallist retires

LONG before her selection for the 2008 Beijing Olympics, and surprise silver medal win in the women’s single slalom kayak event, Jacqui Lawrence knew she was going to retire, come what may.

To be precise, it was November 2007 when she made up her mind to retire, but only now is she ready to share that publicly.

The former Old Bonalbo resident spoke to The Northern Star on the first anniversary of her unexpected climb on to the medal dais in Beijing on August 15 last year.

Apart from a recent kayaking trip to Hinchinbrook Island with her father, she hasn’t really picked up a paddle in anger since Beijing. And she doesn’t miss it.

“I had decided to retire in November 2007, it was just a matter of when,” she said.

“At the Olympics, knowing that I was going to retire was something that also took the pressure off. I had a job to do – perform at my best – but I was also looking forward to the future.

“I wasn’t open about retiring after the Olympics because I wanted to see if I missed the sport after a few months off. I didn’t.

“I don’t miss training or competing, really, and that’s really odd because it has been so clean cut for me, whereas some of my friends from other sports who said they were taking a break from the Olympics or potentially thinking about retiring got itchy feet after a few months.”

However, Lawrence, 27, has left herself a little bit of wriggle room if she does have second thoughts at some stage.

“I’m not worried about changing my mind, but I’m not training and I’m not missing it a bit, and I can’t see that changing in a hurry,” she said.

“I hope after a time of separation from the sport I will be able to come back into it with energy and passion – if not as an athlete, then recreationally, or as support.”

Lawrence said it didn’t feel like a year had passed since she won the silver medal, ‘more like a month’.

But she won’t be marking the occasion in any special way with her two younger sisters and fellow kayakers, Kate and Ros – both overseas competing – as well as her boyfriend, flatwater canoeist Torsten Lachmann.

“No one is really going to remember that date, that date is only really significant for me,” she said.

“I guess it seems like a bit of a blur, but I only have to watch the footage to bring everything back.”
Indeed, she has the footage stored on her iPhone and has watched it ‘about 10 times’.

“I go back to how I was feeling leading up to the start line and how calm I felt.

“It was very different to any other big race that I’ve been in and I’m amazed that I stayed under control,” she said.

“The medal was a surprise to almost everyone, except my parents.

“When they saw how calm I was before my final, they felt that I would medal.”

Lawrence said winning the silver medal hadn’t changed her life, but she had made many changes in her life since.

She’s stopped training and competing, continues to work in town planning with Innovation Planning Australia and is about to shift her base in Sydney from Penrith to Dee Why.

And what of that silver medal?

“It’s still in the cupboard at my unit and I only really get it out if someone comes over and hasn’t seen it,” she said.

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