Paddling to success

Tess Patemen (on right) high-fiving a competitor following the AIMS Games Year 8 Girls Canoe Slalom Final at McLaren Falls. Photo: Dave Lintott/

Tess Pateman reckons throwing herself down extreme river rapids regularly gives her the confidence to tackle just about anything in life.

The Omokoroa Point School student won silver in the Year 8 Girls Canoe Slalom Final last week at the Anchor AIMS Games.

Tess has been involving herself in the sport for a year now and is making strides to get to the Youth Olympic Games in 2020.

Last year at the AIMS Games Tess finished 6th out of 7 in canoe slalom.

“I started six weeks before AIMS last year. I thought I’d try it out because I am good at kayaking.

“I only knew the basics. But because I stuck at it, I managed to finish 2nd out of 16 competitors this year. If you just keep putting the work in, it will give you so much confidence for other things in life.”

Canoe slalom involves individuals running a river rapid course marked by ‘gates’. The aim is to complete the course in the fastest time possible.

Tess says the sport can be daunting at times, particularly when travelling over wild rapids or when large rocks appear out of nowhere.

“It can be pretty scary especially on the harder courses. When you are going down the river you can’t see where the rocks are and hitting them is annoying.

“The hardest course I have run is Aniwhenua. You had to launch the boat off a cliff sort of thing. There were heaps of big rapids and lots of rocks. I ended up bailing out of my boat.

“Once I have fallen out of my boat, you get more confident because you realise that it is the worst that can happen. You just go for a swim, it’s not that bad.

"If I can throw myself down a river with extreme rapids and all sorts of boats I can practically do anything."

Tess’ father Richard Pateman is over the moon that Tess found her sport after ‘giving it a go’ at AIMS games last year.

“Second place has been a massive achievement, thanks to all her hard work and training dedication.”

He commends all the competitors who took part in the AIMS Games this year who ‘may have just found their sport after giving it a go.’

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