The Sydney Uni Sport and Fitness Elite Athlete Program has helped in the production of yet another Olympian with the selection of sprint kayaker Noah Havard in the Australian team for the 2024 Paris Olympic Games.

The Bachelor of Project Management (2023) graduate majoring in Construction has been selected in the Sprint Kayak 4-Person 500m event along with Pierre van der Westhuyzen, Jackson Collins, and Yale Steinepreis.

In a letter to Leonie Lum, Head of Sport on the EAP, Noah said he was immensely grateful for the support and opportunities that the university provided him during his academic journey.

“I wanted to share this accomplishment with the university community, as my time at Sydney has played a significant role in shaping not only my academic and professional endeavours but also my athletic pursuits,” he said. “The values of dedication, teamwork, and perseverance that I cultivated during my time at Sydney have undoubtedly contributed to my success on the water.

“I am honoured to represent both Australia and the University of Sydney on the world stage, and I am committed to giving my all in pursuit of Olympic glory. Thank you once again for your continued support, and I look forward to sharing my Olympic journey with you all.”

Leonie Lum was delighted with the news. “A huge congratulations on your selection for Paris as well as the completion of your undergraduate studies,” she said. “It was a pleasure to support you on our Elite Athlete Program in 2019 and 2020 and we’re thrilled that all of your hard work has earned you the opportunity to represent Australia at the highest level. We will be watching your Paris campaign with excitement and interest.

Growing up in Bondi, Noah’s early sporting career was with the local Lifesaving Club and then with rugby league, turning out for the Sydney Roosters Development Squad until a shoulder injury cut short that career.

But his determination to keep playing sport saw him follow his brother into surf ski paddling and he soon became addicted. “I started to really love it,” he told Paddling Australia. “Being out on the ocean doing a bit of hard work, getting fit, getting strong.”

And it was then he met Olympic champion Ken Wallace who talked him into sprint paddling. “Ken was a great role model of mine,” Noah said. “He took me under his wing and showed me this paddling thing. He opened my eyes to see that it is possible to come from surf ski into kayaking.”

Moving through the ranks saw him leave relocate from Bondi to the Gold Coast in 2022 to join the Queensland Academy of Sport. The move paid immediate dividends and that same year he represented Australia at the ICF Canoe Sprint World Championships, World Cups and the Under 23 World Championships, winning bronze as part of the U23 Men’s K4 500.

The following year he teamed with van der Westhuyzen, Collins and Riley Fitzsimmons to take silver in the K4 500m at the Canoe Sprint World Cup in Poznan, Poland.

Noah said his time in surf lifesaving at Bondi had given him the hard work ethic and helped to hone a competitive mindset. “I think they are the biggest strengths that I learnt from surf lifesaving,” he said. “Kayaking involves transferring all of that power and energy into technical aspects. That was the change I had to make – how to use your power effectively and be efficient across the water.”

The 11-strong sprint canoe team is the largest to be announced to represent Australia. They will be part of the expected final overall Australian team of 460-480 athletes Paris bound. The sprint canoe team boasts a wealth of international experience, with all 11 athletes having achieved podium results at World Championship or World Cup level – including silver for the women’s K4 and bronze for the men’s K2 at the 2022 World Championships.

The team was announced by four-time Olympian and Deputy Chef de Mission Bronwen Knox following the recent Canoe Sprint National Championships. “Congratulations to the eleven athletes selected today to continue Australia’s incredible Olympic legacy in canoe sprint,” Ms Knox said. “From returning Olympic champions, brothers, three three-time Olympians and six debutants, this is a team that will represent Australia with pride.”

And as the SUSF EAP Head of Sport said, Noah’s connection with the campus is far from over. “We’ll be in touch with him again over the coming months as we’ll be creating special artworks for Sydney University’s Olympians and Paralympians,” she said. “And we’ll be inviting him and our other Olympians and Paralympians back to Uni after the Games for an event.”