By day, he is a chemistry and science teacher at St Kevin’s College, but outside of school Aiden Haig is one of the country’s top freestyle canoe athletes.
Representing New Zealand, he leaves for the 2013 ICF Canoe Freestyle World Championships in North Carolina today.
A passion for kayaking began in 2001, when he enjoyed running rivers, but when that became easy he started experimenting and showing off with a few tricks – a bit like how the sport of freestyle kayaking began.
Freestyle kayakers compete by performing a variety of moves or tricks on a stationary river feature. Standing waves, ‘holes’, or hydraulics, or eddy lines — areas where the water changes direction — are all potential freestyle features.
Haig has been calling kayaking part of his job for about five years now, as a qualified instructor and coaching a variety of people.
“I’ve always liked playing around, throwing tricks and goofing around – it’s just fun, it’s just being silly and then I started getting a little better at it,” he said.
“[In May] I went along to the [New Zealand] trial to give it a go and do my best, at the time I had a new baby and I was pretty sleep deprived, but I made it into the team and beat a lot of paddlers I respect, so I was pretty stoked.”
It’s the first time he has represented New Zealand at any sport and between the trials in May and now he’s spent a lot of time travelling between Oamaru and Hawea to train.
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