10th June 2011
From Nottingham to Costa Rica - Neuroscience PhD student Alli and team set to face toughest challenge yet
A Nottingham student will face her toughest test yet when she competes in the White Water Rafting World Championships in Costa Rica.
Neuroscience PhD student Allison McIntosh, 26, who lives in Gamston, is part of the team that will represent Great Britain in the championships in October. The rest of the team is Georgina Preston, 31, from Lady Bay, Jennifer Chrimes, 23, from West Bridgford, captain Bryony Devoy, 29, Deb Cook, 37, Rosie Cripps, 26, and Naomi James, 31.
“It’s going to be amazing,” said Allison. “To experience a different culture, the challenge of the competition, and, of course, we’d love to win a medal.”
The team have been competing internationally for six years and train locally, meeting up once a month to train together. Despite being an amateur team with no funding, they have chalked up some notable successes. They took the bronze medal overall in the last world championships, seeing off competition from around 25 countries, and took a gold in the 2009 world championships in one event, and placed 5th overall.
In 2008, they took silver overall at the European championships, as well as gold, silver and bronze in individual events. And they’re hoping their run of success continues.
“Costa Rica is a big event. There are four disciplines, sprints, head to head, slalom and downriver, which involves padding for 30 to 60 minutes. They test speed, fitness, techniques and stamina. It will be grade 4-5 water, which means a really extreme course. It will be a big change from training at Holme Pierrepont and other similar centres to tackling this big volume of natural river. We’re going over to Costa Rica a week or so before the championships to step up our training.
“We’d really love an overall medal, to show that we are consistent over the four disciplines. Our toughest rivals will be Canada, Slovakia and Czech Republic, I think.”
Allison, who’s originally from Edinburgh, got into the sport by chance. Her parents sent her to a holiday club where she learned canoeing on the Union Canal in Edinburgh. She was hooked and discovered a natural talent.
A trainer spotted her potential and soon she was picked out by the Development Team for the Scottish Canoe Association. She used to train at Holme Pierrepont at the time when it was one of the few centres of its kind in the UK, which influenced her when it came to applying to university. “It’s been great that Nottingham is a high-ranking university and that I could train on my doorstep.”
Fast forward and she was asked to join the white water raft team and hasn’t looked back.
The team have attracted a lot of media attention in the last year or two, and were invited to the opening of the Olympic white water course in London. They were set off by Princess Anne and Lord Sebastian Coe to paddle down the course. The photos are on the official Olympic London 2012 website and footage of the event featured in the Queen’s Speech last Christmas.
The team are now looking for sponsors for the Costa Rica championships, to help with flights and equipment costs. Anyone who can help is asked to contact Allison on: email@example.com