EVERYBODY has heard about the amazing exploits of the O'Donovan brothers at the Olympics last year but Cork has another hero making waves in watersports.
A Bishopstown native who has recently completed a 2,000 kilometre, 70-day kayaking trip across the Persian gulf wants to use his expertise to make the sport more popular in Cork.
Colin Wong, aged 32, has recently returned home from an expedition across the Persian Gulf, paddling the coastline from Qatar to Oman as part of the Kayak4Kuwait team, aiming to raise awareness and educate the public about the condition of the ocean and its marine life in Kuwait.
A former student of Coláiste an Spioraid Naoimh and a graduate of UCC in Physical Education and Sports Studies, Colin made headlines in 2015 when he finished second in the prestigious Liffey Descent marathon canoe race.
For the Kayak4Kuwait expedition, he lived on a diet of oats, bars, coffee, tuna and pasta during the physically gruelling trip.
“It was seven to 10 hours a day, sometimes 12. It was like one of those times in your life that you'll never forget,” said Colin.
The trip wasn't all plain sailing, though.
“One of our support ships sunk. The second support ship that we had, the guidelines between the mast and the boat all snapped off during a big storm in Oman and the boat starting swaying from side to side. It was definitely the most dangerous thing that happened on the trip. We had to send a mayday to the coastguard,” said Colin.
Now back in Cork and thinking about his next expedition, Colin is planning to set up a kayaking school in the city and he says that Leeside is the perfect place for the sport to grow.
“The aim is to get as many people kayaking in Cork as is possible. I'm trying to figure out the best way to introduce the sport to people and give them an opportunity because it's an amazing sport.
“There's so much you can do with it. The Kayak4Kuwait trip is one of many that I've done and I've also spent seven months in Africa. You can also have a career in it kayaking,” said Colin.
“I'm going to start small. I want to give people who want to get involved the opportunity to go as far and even further than I have.
“At the the Lee fields, there's a car park there with a slipway. You can turn up and park your car and the river is just there, it's very handy and very central and people have the ability to get there real quick. Even if it's after work during the summer and they want to get out for a couple of hours, it's ideal. The dream is to see this sport reach another level,” he added.
In terms of emulating the success of the O'Donovan brothers, Colin said would love to compete in the Olympics in 2018 if there was funding available for kayaking.