Promising Maroochydore paddler has world at her feet
Alyce Burnett at the 2011 Australian Titles
While most 19 year olds are out partying, Alyce Burnett is not only one the nation's most promising up-and-coming canoe sprint stars, but studies Journalism at University, while trying to help rebuild the Maroochydore SLS Club following the tragic death of Matt Barclay.
It all began 12 years ago when at just seven years of age; Alyce Burnett began life at the Maroochydore Surf Lifesaving Club on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland.
The 19 year old has come on leaps and bounds in the sport since then, following in the footsteps of the likes of Ken Wallace and Alana Nicholls, who are making the popular choice of transitioning across from surf ski paddling to canoe sprint in search of competing at the highest level, the Olympic Games.
After missing out on a maiden Olympic berth in 2012, Burnett has decided not to travel overseas this year with the U22 team, deciding that her role as Development Officer at the Maroochydore SLS Club more important than ever, following the tragic passing of 14 year old club member Matthew Barclay at the Australian Surf Life Saving Championships earlier in the year.
Matt Barclay’s death has had a profound influence on Burnett.
“It really changed my mind on life.”
“It made me realise to really chase your dreams and live every moment as your last.”
Often forgetting that Burnett is still a teenager herself, she has been given the challenging task of retaining the cadets aged 14-17 that she works with.
“My role is really pivotal to the club in trying to make sure the youths I work with are having fun and want to return from one season to the next.”
"Since Matt’s death some club members have been very distraught and are struggling to come to terms with things. It’s my job to encourage them and ensure they get some confidence back!"
“I tell the squad that our number 1 role is as a Lifesaver and secondly as an athlete.”
Equally adept in both a ski and a sprint boat, Burnett has decided to put her sprint career on hold for 2012 deciding to trial for the Ironwoman Series in August, where she hopes to qualify for the first time, and after finishing second behind
fellow sprint paddler Naomi Flood in the women’s single surf ski at Aussies there is no doubting Burnett has the ability to achieve just that.
“It’s something that I have always wanted to do, so I can mark it off my list”, said Burnett.
“The Ironwoman will keep me really fit, provide good cross training for my kayak, and get me a lot stronger.”
Burnett plans to return to kayak properly by September, and after making her senior team debut in 2010 as a 17 year old following a stellar junior career, she headlines a list of strong U22 paddlers coming through the ranks who are eyeing off a spot at the first U23 Canoe Sprint World Championships in Ontario, Canada next year.
“My aim is to win gold in the women’s K1 events at U23 Worlds.”
Asked what will be in store for her between now to the 2016 Olympic Games, and whether she can step it up to the senior K1 ranks, Burnett responded.
“Between now and Rio I should have three U23 World Championships to compete in where the focus will be on K1, while I’m looking forward to continue to compete in the K2 (500) with Hailey (McGinty) at senior Worlds.”
“I have always wanted to be a K1 paddler, and if I can improve my strength I think I can do just that.”
Burnett’s journey over coming years is set to be an exciting one, as the talented Sunshine Coast resident builds towards Olympic glory in the future.