Anything you canoe I can do better

April 29, 2022

Bond University’s Pierre van der Westhuyzen (pictured) has been named alongside his brother and alumnus Jean van der Westhuyzen in the Australian Canoe Sprint team for 2022.

Pierre’s selection is a major step towards his goal of emulating his older brother who won gold for Australia at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

The brothers will now compete on the 2022 ICF Canoe Sprint World Cup circuit and at the 2022 ICF Canoe Sprint World Championships in Halifax, Canada.

Pierre is studying a Bachelor of Actuarial Science. Jean graduated with a Bachelor of Business last year.

The younger van der Westhuyzen credited his training partners at Varsity Lakes with lifting his performance to a world-class level.

“The kind of guys you are training with are next level,” Pierre said.

“My brother Jean and Tom Green just won the gold medal at the Olympics, so you are quite literally training with the world’s best - Olympic champions.

“It’s reassuring to have an Olympian in your household. It shows you that they are real people, it’s achievable, that’s my brother.

“Being there and watching all the sacrifices he’s made and all the work he’s put in, you really know what has gone into it.

“It is rewarding to see him go out and achieve that.”

Both brothers emigrated from their native South Africa to Australia to pursue their paddling goals.

“An Olympic medal is obviously the aim,” Pierre said.

“I’m still pretty young and 2024 Paris Olympics is the ambitious goal. I’ll be 21 in 2024 and if we can get in that team it will be a bonus.”

But the road to Paris is paved with the pain of intense training.

“It’s hard to explain that high lactate level you go through,” Pierre said.

“The general person who is doing exercise and thinks they are hurting, that’s probably 70 per cent, there is another 30 you can give and that really, really hurts.

“It’s a hurt box that you can’t hide from. That’s the benchmark, that’s what makes these athletes the best.”