Paris Olympics 2024 (Team GB): Meet Canoeist Ryan Westley

British slalom canoeist Ryan Westley was born on August 19, 1993, and has been competing internationally since 2009. He is currently competing in the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris.

Ryan Westley Qualifies for the Paris Olympics 2024 after being The European Games Champion

Ryan Westley won the men’s C1 event at the recent European Canoe Slalom Championships in Krakow. This was an impressive comeback for the 29-year-old British canoeist, who had missed some recent competitions due to injury troubles.

In the finals in Krakow, Ryan paddled a very fast, clean run right from the start. He steadily built a solid lead over the other competitors. By the end of his run, he had established the top time of 94.01, seconds.

The last paddler down was the current world number one, Benjamin Savsek. But even Savsek was unable to beat Ryan’s fast time. So Ryan held on to win the European title, which he had also claimed in 2018.

This gold medal finish means that Great Britain has likely earned a qualifying spot for the men’s C1 canoe slalom event at the upcoming 2024 Paris Olympics. This would allow Ryan Westley, now age 29, the chance to compete at his first Olympics. It would be a remarkable achievement after overcoming his recent injuries.

Ryan Westley is back and enjoying Canoeing again ahead of the Paris Olympics

Ryan Westley recently overcame several difficult injuries that nearly ended his canoeing career. He suffered damage to the ligaments in one shoulder and the cartilage in the other shoulder.

Dealing with these severe injuries took both physical and mental harm on Ryan. He says he struggled with very dark thoughts and depression. His eating habits suffered, which caused him to gain over 35 pounds during lockdown. Even routine things like getting out of bed became extremely difficult.

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The injuries had pushed 29-year-old Ryan, who is from Merriott to the brink of retiring from professional canoeing. But now, after much perseverance, he has regained his strength and motivation.

Ryan has worked hard to improve his injuries and get back into peak racing shape. He has lost the excess weight and now feels mentally refreshed with a renewed passion for paddling.

The 2018 World Championship silver medal winner is ecstatic to be enjoying canoeing again after four or five difficult years. With the 2024 Paris Olympics on the horizon, Ryan Westley is determined to make the most of this comeback and charge towards competing next summer.

Ryan Westley’s Early Years and Education in England

Ryan Westley was born on August 19, 1993, in the small town of Merriott, Somerset, England. He currently lives in Nottingham, Great Britain.

Ryan studied sports science and management for one year at the university level. His occupation is a professional canoe athlete funded by the UK national sports lottery program.

Some of Ryan’s hobbies outside paddling include hiking, fishing, surfing, rock climbing, and playing Xbox video games. He stands 5 feet 11 inches tall and weighs 174 pounds.

Ryan Westley is a happily married man

Ryan Westley recently got married on November 4, 2023, to his wife Alexander Ridge Westley. Alexander is a Qualified Summer Mountain Leader and Rock Climbing Instructor. She earned her master’s degree with honors in Chemistry and also has a teaching credential (PGCE).

Ryan Westley Wife Alexander Ridge Westley
Image: Ryan Westley got married to his wife Alexander Ridge Westley (Source: Ryan’s Instagram)

In addition to her professional mountain guide work, Alexander has a YouTube channel where she posts video blogs documenting her various outdoor adventure exploits like hiking, climbing, and camping.

Ryan Westley Canoeing Career So Far

Early Career

Ryan first tried canoeing over 15 years ago at the age of 11 back in 1996. He began competing in the Olympic sport of canoe slalom racing 9 years ago.

Ryan started canoeing as a child in 1996, paddling down the River Axe in Somerset and along the coast of Cornwall. His first canoe slalom coach was Mark Ratcliffe at the Lower Wharfe Canoe Club. His current coaches are Gareth Wilson and Ian Raspin.

In 2009 at age 16, Ryan began his slalom canoeing career by competing in the Junior European Championships in both the solo C1 and tandem C2 events.

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Over 2009-2011 during his late teens, Ryan gained experience at the European Junior competitions, even making the 2010 Junior World Championship squad. He showed talent in both the single and double disciplines.

From 2012-2013 in his early 20s, Ryan rapidly progressed to the higher Under-23 level, earning selections for the European Under-23 Championships and Under-23 World Cup Final Rankings. During this period he also made his first senior teams for the World Cup Final Rankings against open-age competition.

His breakthrough year

2014 proved a major breakthrough year as 21-year-old Ryan shined at his first World Championships, taking medals in the C1 and C2. He also won medals that year at both the senior European Championships and World Cup Final Rankings.

From 2015-2018 between ages 22-25, Ryan established himself as an established elite competitor on the global stage.

Each year he medaled multiple times on the European Championships and World Championships tours, primarily competing in his C1 specialty.

Ryan also maintained top-level speed by contending in some World Cup and Under-23 races during this period. Through dedication from his teens onwards, Ryan progressed rapidly from junior promise to achieving senior stardom in his mid-20s with multiple major championship medals to his name.

Professional Career

While Ryan continued competing rarely. During 2019 he still managed European and Worlds races but did not reach the podium. After the 2020 Olympic postponement and the challenges of the pandemic, Ryan did not compete internationally in 2020-21.

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In 2022 at age 29, Ryan successfully resumed his career by returning to European and World Championships competition.

In 2023 now aged 30, Ryan produced his new career highlight by capturing C1 gold at the European Championships.

Legacy of Championships Medals

In total throughout his decorated career since his junior days, Ryan has collected:

  • 3 Silver, 2 Bronze – World Championship medals
  • 2 Gold, 3 Bronze – European Championship medals
  • 1 Silver – Under-23 World Championship medal
  • 1 Gold, 2 Silver – Under-23 European Championship medals
  • 1 Gold – Junior World Championship medal
  • 2 Silver – Junior European Championship medals