It’s Hull and high water!

Hemel Hempstead Gazette sports reporter Adam Hull tackles the Lee Valley rapids.
Hemel Hempstead Gazette sports reporter Adam Hull tackles the Lee Valley rapids.

The London 2012 Olympics are sure to offer a spectacle of high adrenaline, rip-roaring thrills and spills – and Hertfordshire’s one and only Games venue certainly reflects that.

Lee Valley White Water Centre has been specially created to host five days of intense canoe slalom action during the Games, and the public have been given a chance to try out the experience first hand.

So myself – Sports Reporter Adam Hull – and four friends decided to get kitted up and give the course a go to see what the world’s finest athletes will be tackling in the summer.

And it is certainly an experience not to be missed.

We arrived for the first session of the day and wriggled into our wetsuits, buoyancy aids and helmets, before watching the course fill up in spectacular fashion.

Almost 13,000 litres of water per second powers down the Olympic standard Competition Course – enough to fill 75 bath tubs every second, or an Olympic sized swimming pool in 30 seconds.

The sight of the water raging its way through the course is pretty impressive to say the least – and it is then that you really appreciate what you have let yourself in for!

We headed to the practice area where we were taught the arts of paddling, falling out of the raft and, of course, getting back in.

After a quick practice – with the inevitable shock to the system when first entering the water – we learned some of the basic commands that we would be using, and then it was out onto the course.

Our team of nine hardy paddlers, plus our instructor, began the ascent to the top of the course, ready to embark on our first lap.

And then we were off. Paddling furiously, we manoeuvred our way through the first section of rapids and began to zoom along the course, trying our best to avoid the other rafts and canoes in our path.

It was certainly an experience to get the blood pumping, with the spray from the rapids whipping across our faces and the speed of our paddling taking our breath away.

And then, after a couple of minutes, we were back at the relative calm of bottom of the course, having successfully worked our way to the end of the track. And we could not wait for our next run.

Our session lasted about three hours, and we managed to fit in a good number of laps before hanging up our paddles for the day.

The Olympic canoeing at Lee Valley gets under way on Sunday, July 29, and I will be keeping an eye out so see how Team GB get on in their quest to tackle the course.

After my morning on the rapids it has made it clear to me – whoever comes away with the medals will certainly have earned them!