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Introducing new Prevented Ocean Plastic ambassador, world champion Beth Gill

By October 30, 2023No Comments

Prevented Ocean Plastic™ is proud to introduce a new world champion ambassador.

Beth Gill is full-time professional flatwater canoe athlete and has represented Great Britain at numerous European and World Championship events. In 2022 she won four World and European Championship medals, including a gold to become world champion. Next year she’s aiming to compete in the olympics!

Sport has been central to Beth’s life as long as she can remember. She has competed in football, cross country, gymnastics and hockey at various levels. Before leaving school though, Beth went through a UK Sport Talent Identification programme called Girls4Gold, where she gave flatwater canoeing (a sport she’d never heard of or seen before!) a go. She was hooked then, immediately dedicated herself to the sport, and has been on the Great Britain canoe team for almost ten years now.

  • Hi Beth! Canoeing seems to have many disciplines. Please can you talk through them? Which do you train for and compete in?

Canoeing can be anything from slalom (round the poles) to canoe polo to flatwater canoeing. I train in flatwater canoeing in the sprint and marathon distances. Sprint canoeing is pretty much about going A to B, in your own lane as fast as you can, covering anywhere from 200m to 1000m. The sport requires not only a very good fitness level, but also a lot of strength and power. Whereas Marathon canoeing ranges from 20 minutes to 2 hours, sitting on washes, working in a group and negotiating open rivers. I enjoy the challenges of both disciplines, and believe they help me to achieve my goals across both events. I became world champion in the marathon event, whilst I’m currently hoping to qualify for the Olympic Games in the sprint discipline.

  • Could you tell me about your favourite time in a canoe? Is there one race, competition, or trophy that means the most?

The achievement that means the most to me is definitely becoming World Champion in Ponte-de-Lima, Portugal. My family came out to watch, the crowds were incredible, and the atmosphere was just amazing. It was also the first ever canoe singles world title for Great Britain which is very special. I came through quite a few ups and downs to get to that point, so it really meant a lot to me.

Second only to sport, is Beth’s passion for the water where she works. This makes her connection with Prevented Ocean Plastic™ a perfect fit. And her interest started early, in her hometown.

“My childhood was spent in Newcastle Upon-Tyne where the River Tyne is central to the city. Often people drive, walk over or past a river and think ‘wow, look at that lovely river’. I now spend a significant amount of my time on our world’s rivers, which has enabled me to see both rivers and the world from a whole different vantage point, observing both beautiful views whilst also making a closer connection to the rivers and learning more about them. Rivers are central to our world, and we must learn to look after them because they aren’t as pretty as they first seem. We are currently treating them like a sewer and somewhere to deposit what we no longer want, but we need to share their importance as a home to living organisms that sustain our planet and our lives.”

© CanoePhotos
  • How would you describe the impact of polluted water on your sport?

Whilst training on the rivers we often experience stomach issues from polluted water, or witness debris and plastics flowing down them. Imagine if a Premier League football pitch was a big bog, a rugby ball was deflated or a cycling track full of potholes? It wouldn’t be accepted.

  • Do you think enough is being done to understand the impact of plastic waste and other pollution on the water?

“I think we have made a good start. We have recognised the damage we are causing and that change must be made. But my personal opinion is that a lot more can be done to both rectify the damage we have already caused and prevent future damage. The work being done by Prevented Ocean Plastic™ is incredible and must be recognised and continued. We can all make a large difference, no matter how big or small we perceive the contribution.”

  • Am I right in saying that your passion for the water has influenced your own university studies?

“Yes! I had originally planned to study Engineering alongside playing hockey. When I made the transition to canoeing, I also deferred my studies. A couple of years down the line, I restarted my studies alongside my training, but instead started studying Natural Sciences, where I focus on the environment. Alongside spending large amounts of my time out in the environment and on the rivers, I was also learning more about them and connecting the two together. It really opened my eyes to a lot of what I was seeing and the importance in both connecting with and learning about rivers.

  • Why did you choose to work with Prevented Ocean Plastic™?

“I’ve been following the work that Prevented Ocean Plastic™ are doing for a while. Rivers are my playground and my office, and a lot of what I see in the rivers directly impacts what ends up in the oceans. I am passionate about sharing the issues surrounding our rivers, so I was delighted when an opportunity came up to become an ambassador for a team who actively work to make a difference. What also excites me about Prevented Ocean Plastic™ is how they not only tackle the ocean plastic problem, but they do so in a way that’s environmentally and economically sustainable, creating jobs for people in deprived areas. They also enthusiastically engage in future steps and research, which is super interesting for me!

Sustainability isn’t just environmental, it also encompasses social and economic sustainability. Prevented Ocean Plastic™ cover all three, not only supporting communities across the globe, but also helping all of us make important choices at home by looking for their logo on products in our supermarkets.”

  • Advice from a world champion is always welcome- what are the best ways for people new to canoe to get into the sport?

“There’s such a large variety of canoe clubs that will be more than helpful in introducing new paddlers to the water in a safe and enjoyable way. In Great Britain, you can go to the British Canoeing website to see an interactive map of your closest canoe clubs. I’d definitely encourage anyone and everyone to find your local canoe club, it doesn’t matter you age or ability there is a boat for everyone. Participating in sports on our rivers is both enjoyable and incredibly relaxing for the mind. It also provides an opportunity to connect with waterways across the world and see the planet from a whole new vantage point.

  • What does the future look like for you? What are your ambitions on and off the water?

“The future looks exciting! 2024 is an Olympic Year, so we have a big season coming up to qualify for Team GB and race in Paris. I’m also looking forward to challenging myself in new ways and working to be the best athlete that I can be. I’d also like to collect some more world medals! Off the water, I’ll be graduating from my degree at the University of Nottingham.”

Beth officially became a Prevented Ocean Plastic™ ambassador in October 2023 and we’re excited to work with her to highlight the problem of ocean-bound plastic, and help clean up the waterways where she competes. Prevented Ocean Plastic™ is proud to introduce a world champion- in more ways than one- to our ranks.

Prevented Ocean Plastic™ is high quality, certified recycled plastic that has been collected from coastal areas at risk of ocean plastic pollution. Used by supermarkets and brands around the world, it meets regulatory health and safety standards, is traceable back to source and can be identified on-pack through its distinctive triangular logo. Prevented Ocean Plastic™ is an official nominee for the 2023 Earthshot Prize, and counts Lidl, Sainsbury’s, Waitrose and Booths Supermarket as key partners, along with major manufacturing partners such as Groupe Guillin, Spectra Packaging, and Berry Global for offerings across multiple product categories, including fish, poultry, soft fruits, pet food, personal care, and home cleaning.