USC helps athlete achieve gold comeback

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USC helps athlete achieve gold comeback

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Published on 27 August 2012

27 August 2012

New technology and scientific expertise at the University of the Sunshine Coast’s aquatic centre has helped a 1992 Olympian and world champion again win gold – 20 years after she dropped elite sport due to injury.

Dr Gayle Mayes, now a Lecturer in Tourism, Leisure and Events Management at USC, has just returned from the World Outrigger Sprints in Canada where at age 56 she represented Australia in the senior master women’s category.

“I won four medals including two gold - one of the best medal hauls of our 55-member Australian team,” said the delighted paddler and Caloundra resident.

“I’ve now taken out the trifecta for the V1 (single outrigger craft): the open and masters divisions at the World Sprints in Sacramento in 1992 and the senior masters division in 2012, exactly 20 years later.”

Dr Mayes also competed in kayaking at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics but gave up paddling after undergoing surgery to remove a ruptured disc in her back.

Over the past two decades she coached and trained athletes at all levels while pursuing an academic career and completing a PhD at USC.

“In 2010 I was chatting at the Caloundra Outrigger Canoe Club and was invited by the president Paul Terry (who had been her outrigger coach in 1992) to try paddling again,” she said.

“It’s been quite a comeback and an extraordinary journey for me.”

After pairing with Suzanne Maksan to win master women’s doubles races locally and nationally in 2011, Dr Mayes was selected at Kawana earlier this year to represent the Australian team in Calgary, Canada, this month.

Her preparation was scientifically honed at the USC aquatic centre.

“The University’s Professor John Lowe and Sport Sciences staff assisted my stroke development by analysing a single outrigger in the pool,” she said.

“They captured the paddle stroke technique of the New Zealand coach using the new underwater video recording technology and camera on the side of the pool and then under the water. I added my knowledge of kayaking technique to outrigger canoeing and came up with a powerful combination.

“It’s the first time this type of analysis and recording has been undertaken with an outrigger canoeist.”

With a conditioning program advised by consultant to Australian Olympic kayak teams Dr Enid Ginn, training at Lake Kawana with the Mooloolaba senior women’s team, and a loss of 15kg to reach her Olympic race weight of 67kg, Dr Mayes achieved great success in Canada.

The Mooloolaba women’s team won gold, silver and bronze in the six and 12-person outrigger events.

Dr Mayes is a researcher with the USC Sustainability Research Centre and current projects include coastal and marine tourism and climate change.

— Julie Schomberg

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