London Spy

Deceased uncle inspires gold medal triumph

London Spy

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The man-made rapids of the Lee Valley White Water Centre are a world away from the raging torrents of the Himalayas but British canoe slalom winner Tim Baillie said on Thursday his late uncle's expeditions to the wilderness had been inspirational.

Baillie and C2 partner Etienne Stott became the first Britons to win an Olympic gold medal in canoe slalom, beating compatriots David Florence and Richard Hounslow into second place with Slovakian greats Pavol and Peter Hochschorner third.

"He inspired me," said the 33-year-old whose previous Olympics experience was as a canoe coach to the New Zealand team in Beijing after missing out on selection.

"My parents were involved in recreational canoeing and they used to put me in a canoe when I was a kid, on the end of a rope. But my uncle made films of his expeditions and they were cool videos to watch.

"He went on the first canoe expedition to Nepal and canoed down rivers around Mount Everest. That's quite an inspiring film."

Baillie's uncle Mike Jones was one of Britain's foremost adventurers, tackling some of the world's wildest waters in a canoe and wrote a book entitled "Canoeing Down Everest".

He drowned while trying to save a friend on the Braldu River in Pakistan in 1978, the same year that Baillie was born.

Baillie said one of Jones' fellow adventurers, Dave Manby, watched him win the gold medal on Thursday after taking a job as one of the Lee Valley Park's safety officers.

"He tried to get a ticket but missed out, so got himself on the rescue team so he could be here and watch," Baillie said.

Baillie has also kayaked in the Himalayas but when asked if he had anything exciting trips planned to celebrate gold he said he would be happy just to have a rest after months preparing to compete at the Games.

"Nothing really too mental," he said.

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