This March, we’re celebrating women in paddling, from volunteers and officials to those making waves in competition! Across the week we’re profiling seven women whose contribution to paddling has made a difference, be it in the running of events, gender balance on and off the water, building clubs and pushing the boundaries of what is possible on and off the water.
Volunteers and officials are such an important part of the paddling community, and Laura White has taken this to the very highest level with numerous role culminating in her being appointed to officiate at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.
Starting her paddling journey on the water at the age of 10, she Laura qualified as a National Official at 19 and then as an International Official at 30. A brief stint working for Paddle Australia saw her as a key organiser of the kayaking team for the 2004 Athens Olympics, while as a volunteer technical official she was appointed to officiate at the Junior World Championships in 2016 and subsequent years. This culminated in her appointment by the ICF to the 2020 Tokyo Paralympic Games, where she continued to make history as the first Australian to be appointed to the Competition Committee. She’s forever learning and helps to bring the international experience to our events here at home.
Back in NSW, she served as Chair of the PaddleNSW Sprint Committee from 2012 to 2020, was PaddleNSW’s inaugural recipient of the Women Leaders in Sport grant, and is a regular contributor of time and leadership both in sprint and across the paddlesports more broadly.
Having quite literally grown up in the sport, Laura always talks about the paddling community as ‘family’, no matter what paddlesport we’re all involved in. She loves hearing of opportunities and ideas on how to make our sports better and is a big supporter of advances being available across all sports, not just our Olympic disciplines. Over the years, Laura feels fortunate that there have been so many female volunteers and administrators who’ve led the sport as she grew up; all of whom helped inspire Laura in her own journey. She now hopes to be that person for others.
Check out this Paddle Australia article on Laura’s work at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics