Role Changes in CRNZ Performance Program- Craig Mustard taking over as Lead Mens Coach; Emily Willock National Development Coach

Canoe Racing New Zealand is delighted to announce the promotions of Craig Mustard and Emily Willock into leadership roles in the Performance Program.

Craig has taken over as lead coach of the NZ Mens Kayak squad as they build towards Paris Olympics and beyond. Craig joined the CRNZ coaching team in 2019 as the National Development Coach and became more involved in the Men’s HP Program as Assistant Coach in September of last year. He has vast international coaching experience, leading campaigns at junior, senior and Olympic level for South Africa during both the Rio and Tokyo Olympic cycles.

“I am really honoured to take over the role of men’s lead coach and continue the great work that Tim has been doing with the men’s squad as we work towards qualifying later this year at the World Championships and then onto the Paris Olympics.” said Craig.

“2023 is going to be a busy year for everyone involved and I really believe we have the best coaching team that you can put together all working together for the benefit of our athletes.”

With Craig’s move vacating his role leading the Development Pathway, CRNZ Performance Coach Emily Willock has stepped into the role of National Development Coach. Emily has been involved as a CRNZ pathway coach for the past few years, and in 2022 was selected to join the High Performance Sport NZ Te Hāpaitanga programme, an 18-month holistic coach development initiative designed to enable more women to pursue and maintain a career in high performance coaching in Aotearoa-New Zealand.

Both changes took effect on 7 February 2023.

The moves were precipitated by Tim Brabants’ decision to make a return to a profession in medicine. Tim, a fully qualified doctor, joined the CRNZ High Performance coaching team in January 2020 and has since grown his men’s squad from 6 to 10 paddlers and led the team through the Covid pandemic and Olympic postponement. In one of the most exciting moments of his tenure, Tim oversaw his young charges Max Brown and Kurtis Imrie paddle their way to an outstanding 5th place in the MK2 1000m at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021.

Tim, who has multiple Olympic medals including gold from Beijing 2008, will remain in a part-time Performance Coach role based at Lake Karapiro.

CE Tom Ashley said “CRNZ welcomes these changes. Craig has been an outstanding member of our team and the NZ paddling community since he joined CRNZ in late 2018. He has made an immediate impact since joining the HP Coaching team in September last year and he has our full backing in his exciting new role. Likewise, Emily has quickly established herself in the CRNZ team through her professionalism, intelligence and communication skills. We are delighted she has taken the challenge of leading our athlete development pathway and look forward to seeing the program continue to grow. We congratulate Tim on his achievements and his return to the medical profession. We are grateful to Tim for his huge contribution to our program and look forward to continuing working with him.”

Nathan Luce, GM Performance echoed Tom’s sentiment. “While we are sad to see Tim leave his leading role with the men’s program, we are happy for him and his family knowing that he will be able to return to the medical profession while remaining connected to our athletes and the paddling community in New Zealand.”

“We are fortunate that Tim will be able to work part-time with men’s program in Cambridge while also supporting the Pathway program when required. Craig taking on this new role leading into this year’s World Championship will ensure a minimal disruption in the men’s preparation towards Duisburg and ultimately Paris.”

“We are excited to see Emily lead in this new space since she has worked closely with Craig and the CRNZ team over the last 2 Junior World Championship campaigns.” said Nathan. “We are fortunate to have exceptional coaches such as Emily and Craig within our organisation who can take on new challenges with the wider support of our CRNZ staff and HPSNZ partners. This continues to be an exciting time for our sport in the High Performance space as we look forward to providing our best paddlers the opportunities to shine on the highest international stages.”