The West Australian Institute of Sport is looking for its next Olympic paddler, and is setting up a base in the South West to do so. WAIS, along with Paddling WA, are looking to grow the sport of kayaking in the region and ran a workshop earlier this month for both coaches and athletes wanting to get involved. Paddling WA’s Beau Lewis has been put in charge of the new program and made it clear the goal was to get local kids to the very top of the sport. “The ultimate goal is to get kids to the Olympics,” he said. “It’s going to take us some time but that’s what we want, to get kids to the Games. “We want kids going to the Olympics and World Championships, making Australian teams and touring.” Former Olympian and WAIS paddling head coach Ramon Andersson says the Institute is targeting young surf lifesavers and says it is important to get athletes on the talent pathway as soon as possible. “One of the issue that surf lifesaving have is that they’re not allowed to start competing until they’re about 17, whereas in kayaking you can start competing at any age,” he said. “We’re certainly finding that our best competitors at a national level are usually kids that have started really young and so often they’ve started in a kayak at a young age and then when they’re old enough to do surf ski they go across to that.” Jesse Phillips, who was once ranked sixth in the world and made the final at the 2012 London Olympics, said Lewis was the perfect man to establish the program. “He is the leading coach and the co-ordinator of what we’re trying to establish in the South West,” he said. The program is funded by PWA, WAIS and a grant from the Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries.