In the run up to the 2022 ICF SUP World Championships in Gdynia, Poland on the 7-11 September, the Polish Canoe Federation and the Polish SUP Sports Association (Związek Sportowy SUP) announced a dedicated event for groms – The International SUP Kids Race – where young SUP athletes can compete on inflatable paddleboards in two categories – Technical and a Long-distance race. In addition to that, Fiona Wylde, three-time World SUP Champion, has been confirmed as the Ambassador for both the Kids event and Special Olympics.
Although the Kids race is not officially part of the ICF Worlds main racing competition and groms will not be crowned World Champs, it’s a unique opportunity to paddle in an event of this calibre.
TotalSUP caught up with Poland’s youngest SUP racer and SIC Maui Rider Mikołaj Miczek and his dad, Mariusz, Founder of RTW Raciborskie Towarzystwo Wioślarskie, a thriving training centre for junior SUP athletes, to chat about the most significant SUP event in the country to date.
Hi Mikołaj, welcome to TotalSUP! Tell us something about yourself and how did you get into the sport of stand up paddleboarding?
Hi, my name is Mikołaj, I’m 9 years old, I live in Racibórz and I train on the local River Odra. I was introduced to stand-up paddleboarding at one of kayaking trips organised by my dad, Mariusz. He was securing it on a stand-up paddleboard and I wanted to paddle it too. I ended up paddleboarding my first river on a SUP board and this is how my SUP adventure started.
Tell us more about the club you’re training with…
I’m a member of RTW Racibórz SUP Club where I started my watersport adventure. I’m one of the first athletes that joined the newly reactivated club under my dad’s management. I like everything that’s related to the club and training. The club is open to kids as young as 4 and 5 years old so you can say that I have been paddleboarding nearly half of my life.
Photo credit: EuroTour
Which SUP athlete inspires you the most?
How do you prepare for SUP racing competitions?
I train three times a week. We have general sports activities and we paddle a lot on our River Odra, also against the flow which is the greatest fun. And right before SUP competitions, my dad cuts us some slack.
It must be hard to juggle school, training and time you’d like to spend with your friends. How do you stay motivated to train and compete?
I train because I like doing it and I like my team. We have a lot of adventures when we compete. Training does not interrupt my school work and when it comes to spare time, I hang out with my friends, but spending it with my club mates is cool too!
What would you say to aspiring riders who would like to start their SUP adventure?
To simply train as this is a great way to spend your time. I do it because I like racing and spending a lot of time on the water.
Tell us about your SIC Maui board
It’s a hard SIC Maui 12’6 x 20’ board. You can’t break it! This is my first rigid board and I would like to keep racing on it. When I get older, I would like to go for the 14’ length and compete internationally.
Photo credit: EuroTour
What are your professional SUP plans and dreams?
I would like to take part in the World Championships and represent my country at the Olympics!
Hi Mariusz, what’s your vision behind RTW Racibórz SUP Club?
My vision? I think the plan that I’ve had in mind is being achieved in 100%, maybe event 101%. I have a great team, solid foundation and some very talented athletes who are now competing not only in Poland but also worldwide.
I would like for the club to have a stable location and venue so we don’t have to worry about being kicked out in a month time. It would be great to have proper changing rooms, storage space and a small gym. But I believe that we’ll get there with time.
When did you launch it and how many riders do you have up to date?
We kicked off in 2016 and registered with a full licence in 2018. The first group I managed was a group of 4-5 year-old kids from a kindergarten Miki was going to and I was running one session per week. Lots of fun, water safety, mostly ran in kayaks specifically designed for these groms. That first group was six to seven persons and these numbers have been going up each year.
But from the very beginning I wanted to create a group that would be participating regularly and I was conscious that I would have to wait for results a couple of years. But I do believe that it has been achieved already as the kids can race. To be honest I’m building the club all the time – the gear, lock rooms, training, SUP camps – and it’s all going in the right direction. The first two Winters we were changing on some benches in a park. Now we have our own spot where we can store the gear. We also have 16 junior riders in our group that attend systematically attend our training sessions. And that is just WOW and a big success to me already.
ICF Worlds in Gdynia and Miki will be there…
Yes, the Polish Canoe Federation and the Polish SUP Sports Association (Związek Sportowy SUP) have confirmed that kids will be allowed to compete in a dedicated SUP race. I think Miki and other kids deserve to have a show like that especially that there’s more and more of these groms in Europe and in the world. It’s beautiful to watch young riders compete and stirring things up at these events!
Miki (from left) and the RTW Racibórz SUP Club Junior Team are ready for ICF Worlds in Gdynia
Thank you for your time and see you in Gdynia!
Miki’s top achievements to date:
>> 2 Gold medals at Polish SUP Championships U15
>> 2nd place at EuroTour in Prague U12 (Miki was 8 years old!)
>> 3rd place at EuroTour in Prague U15
To explore SIC Maui quiver, visit www.sicmaui.com and follow the brand on Instagram and Facebook
Follow Mikołaj Miczek on Instagram and check out his latest SUP endeavours via RTW Racibórz
To find out more about the event, visit www.icfsupgdynia2022.pl
Find out more about the International Canoe Federation at www.canoeicf.com