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‘It’s been a lot of fun’: The remarkable career of Aberdeen-born canoeist David Florence

David Florence has retired after a glittering career in canoe slalom.
David Florence has retired after a glittering career in canoe slalom.

Canoe slalom legend David Florence described himself as “really fortunate” after calling time on a remarkable career.

The 39-year-old, who was born in Aberdeen, is hanging up his paddle after winning three Olympic silver medals, three World Championship golds and 11 World Championship medals in total. Add to this one European Championship gold and seven European medals overall.

Florence, who also recorded 27 podium finishes in World Cups, is to start a new career in asset management.

Reflecting on his decision, he said: “It’s been a lot of fun, I feel really fortunate to have had so many great experiences and get to do something I love for so long.

“I’ve always had that desire to be better and look for new ideas and ways to improve.

“That’s definitely been a big part of why I’ve done it for so long and why I’ve really enjoyed it.

“It’s been a hard decision because I’ve really enjoyed canoeing. On the one hand I’d like to do it for longer, but having a young family and not being as young as I once was, I thought it was a good time to move on to a career that’s going to have a bit more longevity.

David Florence with the silver medal he won at Beijing Olympics in 2008.

“A good opportunity came up and I’m going to be starting work in asset management at BlackRock and really looking forward to that as well.

“To be successful at any sport you need a bit of luck and I’ve had great support from brilliant coaches, I’ve had good training groups and an awesome bunch of people that I enjoyed growing up with in the sport.

“All those things have combined into being fortunate to have had a really great career.”

Early highlights

Florence made his first breakthrough at world level in 2005 when recording his first World Cup podium in La Seu d’Urgell, Spain.

A year later he won his first World Cup event in Augsburg before taking World Championship bronze in Prague.

In 2008, Florence won Olympic silver in in the C1 class at the Beijing games.

He added: “Every podium has been very different, the first couple when I was 22 to win a World Cup medal was so off the scale of what was possible at the time it was almost as amazing at that time as winning an Olympic medal.

“I felt so fortunate to go to an Olympic games and win a medal in Beijing. Before it I thought I’d try to get an Olympic medal and then retire.

“But a long time has gone since then, it was just being in the right place at the right time. The London games was on the horizon, which was super exciting.”

Hounslow partnership

Florence’s next two Olympic medals came in the C2 class with Richard Hounslow at London 2012 and in Rio de Janeiro four years later.

The duo also won the European Championship in 2012 and the world title a year later, with Florence also donning the C1 world crown in 2013 and 2015.

“I had a relationship with Richard for a really long time, we were friends and on the junior team together,” he said.

“Then six or eight years later I had the idea of taking up C2 and he was the perfect person to ask: a friend, an awesome competitor and a huge number of the successes I’ve had I’ve shared with him.

“It was a great part of my career, it’s so individual doing the C1, but to feel part of a team, part of a partnership when it’s going badly, it really pushes you to work well together.

“But, when it goes well, being on those Olympic and World Championship podiums were absolutely fantastic experiences – I owe a huge amount to Richard for the successes I’ve had in my career.”

Finishing on a high

Although he missed out on last year’s Tokyo Olympics, Florence did end his career with two silver medals in World Cup events.

He said: “Last year I was the oldest guy on the start line and to win two World Cup medals was really special, not ending my career tailed off, but to finish as one of the best in the world.”

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