Walsh finds success at World Distance Championships

By Andrew Johnston

SOMETIMES to get better, you have to take a risk.

For some its changing equipment, others it's a different program.

For Echuca-Moama's Matt Walsh, it was packing up and moving north - a move which has more than paid dividends.

The 19-year-old paddler claimed a bronze medal as part of the Australian 6-man under 19s team in the 25-30 km Jr 19 Men V6 race at the IVF World Distance Championships 2019 in Mooloolaba in August.

It was a major achievement for Walsh, who made the move to Queensland in June of 2018  to further pursue his sport of choice.

Five teams were involved in the race, with favourites Tahiti breaking away from the back after a relatively even start by all teams.

The Australian team locked into a battle with California, with the two boats slugging it out across the difficult paddle.

Eventually it was the California team who would break away, gaining an advantage of just over a minute, which they would hold until the end of the race.

But Australia would make the charge into the bronze medal position, edging out Hawaii in fourth and Aotearoa (New Zealand) in fifth.

For Walsh and teammate Ashton Cullen, the third place finish was an even sweeter taste, as the only members of Australia's last attempt at the race in Tahiti in 2017, where they finished seventh.

With the massive accomplishment under his belt, Walsh has turned his attentions to away from world competition and towards competing in the open men category, taking the opportunity to further his skill against a higher level of competition despite being eligible to remain in the J19 category for a few more months.

Walsh's mother Sally Minchin said her son was looking towards other aspects of his life and sporting career.

"Matt's undertaking an apprenticeship in landscape design at the moment," she said.

"He wants to focus a little bit more on his career and doing some different type of events.

"But it's always going to be a key part of his life."