Dedicating oneself to anything always has its obstacles, let’s not lie here, commitment issues are all too real. I’ve recently committed to watching Community for the 7th time through (gas leak season and all) but that's about as far as good as I get. It’s the ability to show real commitment that makes number 7 of our Radelaidians Doing Cool Shit so impressive, he’s as committed as they come. Introducing #7, elite kayaker, Callum Dunn.
How long have you been doing kayaking for?
I’ve been kayaking since 2008, so 8 years, coming up to my 9th! My specialty is the sprint side of kayaking; I focus on the 200m. It’s a 34/35 second race, just balls out as hard as you can go.
How’d you first get into it?
I was selected to try it out through SASI, so they (SASI) came to our school and went through a bunch of tests and those who did well were recommended for certain sports. I’d never actually tried it out before then, so I was kinda just thrown the deep end but I’ve stuck with it ever since!
What exactly has kept you loving the sport and so committed?
The freedom of being out on the water and being able to just paddle and relax, as well it keeping you fit and strong. Before Kayaking I was on the weaker side, but it’s improved so much. Oh, and I was a swimmer before I took up kayaking but that was just so boring, I really needed something new.
When it comes to commitments, what exactly does it take to keep at the top of your game?
A normal week is about 11 sessions a week, so 8 kayaking sessions and 3 gym sessions. But we normally get Sundays off so it frees us up for a Saturday night sesh with the boys. Those nights and Sundays off I find are really important for keeping me from burning out.
Then there’s also the dieting side, I’ve really tried to step it up, earlier when I was trying to make the Rio Olympic team I was paying attention to every little thing. So meals I might have aren’t only ‘healthy’ they’re also having to be correct in terms of portion size and different nutrients, for example making sure I’m eating enough protein for all the demands of training.
When you don’t have to be too strict, where in Adelaide are your favourite meals?
Swedish Tarts down at Semaphore! The flat breads, specifically the crispy bacon flatbread, I’ve probably had it more times than I can count. I love Fancy Burger to. Oh, and can’t go past an AB and before you ask, Red and White, I don’t think I could ever change from Red and White.
Outside of the 11 training sessions a week (which is goddamn crazy) how do you spend your free time?
A bit of gaming, playing Battlefield 1 and then recently I’ve been applying for engineering work, trying to use my degree! Then with my mates we always go to the weekly schnitty night down at The Bartley and I also enjoy playing a bit of guitar, watching Netflix and spending time with my dog Penny.
I know you travelled earlier this year, where and what was that to?
First reason was for the U23 Australian kayak team. First off was to Poland was for a training camp and then to Minsk in Belarus to compete in the U23 World Championships. It’s really interesting over there, it’s just so different to Australia. The middle of the actual city is quite beautiful but travel a kilometre or two out and it’s the slum and the weather is pretty insane (quick changes and storms). Overall the competition was pretty good, we ended up 11th overall in the world. We were hoping for a top 9 finish but we had a little mishap in the semi-final which is pretty uncharacteristic, we did redeem ourselves in the B final though and took a 2nd. After this I went on a family holiday and we went over to Brazil and watched the Olympic kayaking, which was pretty incredible to experience.
What are your plans for the future in kayaking?
Well, in my event I was only .3 of a second behind the Australian Olympic team so I’m pretty excited to work towards and hopefully make the 2020 Olympic team. I’m working towards becoming Australia’s fastest paddler in the K1 200 this season (2016-17 season) and I am hoping to represent Australia for the second time at Senior World Cups and hopefully my first Senior World Championship. The plan is definitely to progress further through the ranks Internationally and be in a solid position to be a contender in Tokyo. Along the way I’d love to win a few medals and just keep loving the sport of kayaking.
Cheers for your time Callum! Best of luck for the future!