Chalk up another international kayaking victory to the kayaking kiwi from down under. At southern India’s monsoon-filled Malabar River Festival, Olympic kayaker Mike Dawson capped a great week for New Zealand by winning Asia’s biggest whitewater festival for the second time.
Dawson dominated the event, winning three of the four disciplines against athletes from 19 countries. He was crowned the 2018 Rapid Raja – adding to the title he won in 2015 – and collected a share of the $20,000 prize pool.
The 31-year-old is the current World Cup leader in extreme slalom but relished the chance to get back to his kayaking roots.
“It was so good to have a break from the canoe slalom scene and get back to an event and region that I had such a great time exploring and paddling in the past,” Dawson says. “I knew there was going to be a really stacked international field there and wanted to test myself against the best extreme racers in the world, especially after being away from the scene a
lot more to focus on slalom.”
Dawson collected the slalom, boater-cross and super-final titles in Malabar, and managed a ninth-placing in the freestyle division.
He secured the overall crown in the super-final, clocking in at 1 minute 27:92 seconds to edge Germany’s Adrian Mattern (1:28:47) and United States paddler Dane Jackson (1:28:71).
“For me, the prize and result came second at this event, as it was more about showcasing our sport in India. While the Pro category was hotly contested, it was incredible to see so much talent being developed across India in the intermediate category. This event is instrumental in developing and bringing extreme sports to India and Asia as well as raising awareness for water safety and giving the locals an view of high level racing.”
*Caption:* Mike Dawson on his way to victory in the Malabar River Festival