Echuca's Cameron McMullan has swapped the Murray River for a Danish lake as three of his coaching protégés compete in the International Canoe Federation Canoe Marathon World Championships.By Geordie Cowan
Thirteen years ago, Echuca’s Cameron McMullan competed at his last kayak world titles.
This week he returns, but this time as a coach.
McMullan has travelled to the International Canoe Federation Canoe Marathon World Championships in Copenhagen, where three of his proteges will compete for the Australian junior team this weekend.
‘‘I’m really looking forward to it,’’ he said.
‘‘I haven’t been to a world championships since the last time I raced.’’
McMullan’s competitive international career finished in 2007, after his ninth and final Australian representation at the World Cup, while his last appearance at a world championship was at Halifax, Canada, in 2000.
The process from athlete to coach has been one McMullan has enjoyed and has developed quite significantly since he formed Coaching Evolution in May last year, running mainly out of Melbourne.
McMullan believes his experience in making all his own programs and the work he was doing with Bluearth Foundation — a national not-for-profit organisation which focuses on increasing the level of physical activity of school-aged children in particular — has helped the transition.
‘‘That gives me a really good skill set for what I think coaching really is,’’ he said.
‘‘Basically teaching people, teaching them how to learn from the challenging experiences they have through sport.
‘‘And also having a perspective and direction you want to go.’’
McMullan said once he started the program he knew there were some talented athletes among the 50 paddlers who have taken part in the group, ranging from children to senior athletes.
Melbourne’s Logan Dutton and Casey Haynes and Yarrawonga’s Kayla Whinray are the three athletes who will represent Australia in the junior competition, each competing in singles and pairs events.
The boys, competing in a field of 42, will race for 20.5km, while Whinray will battle 23 other competitors in her 17.2km event.
The laps around the course also involve portages, where they have to carry their kayak over land for a certain distance.
As the championships are in Denmark — where McMullan competed in 1997 — he is expecting it to be one of the biggest world championships in terms of numbers for quite a while.
McMullan hopes all three athletes can claim high finishes, while Whinray — who is a bottom-age athlete — could possibly grab a top-eight place.
‘‘Aerobically (Dutton and Haynes) are very fit and have good skill sets in terms of positioning in packs and managing themselves in groups,’’ he said.
‘‘I think they’ll both be tougher than most people in the field and one is quite fast as well.
‘‘If they get through the first the first 2km without anything happening, I think top 10 is possible for both of them.
‘‘Kayla, I think she could do anything.’’
The athletes will compete in singles today and pairs tomorrow.
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