New life will finally be breathed into Penrith Whitewater Stadium and the adjacent Sydney International Regatta Centre after the NSW State Government injected a much-needed $6.7 million to upgrade the two former Olympic venues.
With Penrith Whitewater Stadium set to host the ICF Canoe Slalom World Championships in 2025, there was no better time than the present to upgrade the aging facility.
Minister for Sport Alister Henskens and Penrith MP Stuart Ayres visited the facility on Tuesday morning to deliver the exciting news. It was music to the ears of Paddle Australia, the International Canoe Federation and the Fox family, who have been pushing hard for the government to invest in the venue’s future for a number of years.
“Penrith is the national home of paddle sports and will now host a World Championship,” Ayres said.
“These funds will not only ensure a wonderful event but will breathe new life into a critical Olympic venue. It’s produced one Olympic Gold Medallist in Jessica Fox and I hope it produces many more as we charge towards the next Australian Olympics in 2032.
“The $3.1 million upgrades to Penrith Whitewater Stadium will ensure the facility is not just ready to host the Canoe Slalom World Championships in 2025, but guarantee it is the best World Championships ever.”
The works will see upgrades to the whitewater course and stadium infrastructure including new course gates and obstacles, a new timing system, lighting and stadium pathways improvements and canoe conveyor system upgrades.
In further good news, the NSW Office of Sport will take over management of Penrith Whitewater Stadium from Penrith City Council on July 1, 2023, ending ongoing confusion previously reported in the Weekender.
Henskens said the upgrades to Penrith Whitewater Stadium come on top of $3.6 million in the 2022/23 Sport Budget to improve the competition timing system at Sydney International Regatta Centre.
“We are proud of our Penrith sporting venues and enjoy hosting, not only our local community and Australia, but the global paddling family,” he said.
Paddle Australia CEO Phil Jones welcomed the infrastructure upgrades.
“The upgrades enable us to meet international specifications for hosting the 2025 ICF Canoe Slalom World Championships in Penrith, continuing the legacy of the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games for our sport and the local community,” he said.
“This essential work will boost the preparation of our Olympic and Paralympic athletes for the Paris 2024 Games, while making the venue more adaptable for other uses like recreational rafting, kayaking and swift water rescue training.”
ICF President Thomas Konietzko said he was thrilled to bring international competition back to Penrith Whitewater Stadium.
“This upgrade, and the hosting of the 2025 ICF World Championships, will cement NSW and Australia as a world leader in paddle sports,” he said.
Nathan Taylor is the Weekender’s Deputy Editor and Senior Sports Writer. He also compiles the weekly Chatter on the Box TV column. Nathan is an award-winning journalist, who has worked at the Weekender for a decade.