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Riley Fitzsimmons

Age

27

Place of Birth

Avoca Beach, NSW

Hometown

Avoca Beach

Junior Club

Avoca Beach Surf Life Saving Club

Senior Club

Gold Coast

Coach

James Owens

Olympic History

Rio 2016

Tokyo 2020

Paris 2024

High School

Terrigal High School

Career Events

Canoe Sprint Men's K-2 1000m

Canoe Sprint Men's Kayak Four (MK4) 500m

Mens K-4 - 1000m

 

Riley's Story

Riley Fitzsimmons has been an apprentice in more ways than one. The surf lifesaving champion started kayaking to improve his surf ski skills and off the water, he’s studied a carpentry and construction apprenticeship.

Riley credits Olympic bronze medallist Lachlan Tame as his greatest influence, with the ‘master’ kayaker and Avoca Beach SLSC teammate responsible for teaching Fitzsimmons how to paddle.   

With dreams of going to the Olympic Games, Fitzsimmons turned to kayaking in 2012 but continues to compete for Avoca Beach SLSC and amongst others, took out the men's surf ski world title at the 2018 Lifesaving World Championships.

In 2015, he partnered with Jordan Wood and won K2 1000 metres gold at the Under 23 Canoe Sprint World Championships.  

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Working the angles and finding that rhythm and flow

A post shared by Riley Fitzsimmons (@rileyfitzz) on


Riley debuted on the Australian senior canoe sprint team in the same year and went on to make his Olympic debut the following year at Rio 2016.

Riley and Jordan put themselves on the Rio radar when they won the first Grand Prix regatta of the 2016 season. The duo defeated 2015 World Championships silver medallists and mentor, Tame and triple Olympian, Ken Wallace.  

At Rio 2016, Riley teamed up with Wallace, Jordan and Jacob Clear in the K4 1000m. The crew went down fighting in the final to finish fourth behind Germany, Slovakia and the Czech Republic.

The Olympic debutante came away feeling disappointed with his result saying, "Coming fourth made it really difficult to find the motivation to get back in the boat and do it all again, after you've given your all and come away empty-handed."

But he was able to dig deep and get back into the water and in 2017, experienced success at the World Championships winning gold in the K4 1000 metres with Wood, Murray Stewart and Ken Wallace.

The same year, Riley and Jordan also won K2 1000 bronze at the Under 23 World Championships.  

In 2019, Riley won gold in the K4 500 at his final Under 23 World Championships and went on to finish fifth in the men's K2 1000 together with Wood at the World Championships, securing Australia an Olympic quota spot in the process.

Riley with his long-term K2 partner and 'best mate', Jordan, won their selection to Tokyo when they claimed K2 1000 gold at the 2020 Australian Championships in a time of 3 min 12.04sec, with the duo overcoming newcomers Tom Green and Jean van der Westhuyzen who finished second by a 1.05sec margin.

Riley made his second Olympic appearance at the delayed Tokyo 2020 games, competing in the K-2 1000m discipline alongside Aussie Jordan Wood and in the K-4 500m event with Team Australia (Lachlan Tame, Jordan Wood and Murray Stewart). 

In the K-2 discipline, Jordan and Riley would play out a competitive opening heat race, narrowly finishing third and earning the pair a quarter-final placing with a time of 3:18.453. They would bounce back from this race in style, finishing their following quarter-final tie in 1st place with an improved time of 3:10.619. 

The Aussie duo would, unfortunately, fall short in the semi-final stage of the competition, finishing last place in the race, earning them a spot in the B Finals, but no longer in medal contention. In their final race the pair would achieve a time of 3:24.757 and an overall placing of 13th in the K-2 discipline.

Competing in the K-4 500m event, the Aussie team would enjoy a strong start to the competition. Finishing their opening heat in 2nd place, with a time of 1:22.662, earning the squad qualification for the semi-finals. They would follow this form up in an incredibly close semi-final matchup, once again finishing 2nd in the race behind Spain, with a gap of .513 seconds deciding the victors. 

This set the squad up for the final of the competition, with medal contention still in sight. Unfortunately, the squad would fall short of medal placing, completing their last race with a time of 1:25.025, earning them a 6th overall placing in the event.

Riley took a year away from competing after Tokyo, to rest, reset and refocus his goals – it brought him back to the sport with a new enthusiasm.

“I think it was really good for me to be out of that environment for a year, get back to working, enjoying life and come back to the sport with a fresh mindset of being really grateful of what we’re able to do every single day,” Riley said.

At the 2023 Canoe Sprint World Cup in Poznan, Poland, Riley teamed up with Pierre van der Westhuyzen, Jackson Collins and Noah Havard to win silver in the K4 500m. Shortly afterwards, they finished fourth at the world titles in Duisburg, Germany.

Riley described the results as “a positive step in the right direction” for Paris. Riley and Noah, a former North Bondi surf lifesaver, have also teamed up to compete in K2 events. Riley said he is excited to be wearing the green and gold again.

“It’s super special putting on the green and gold. As soon as you slip on that singlet and the racing bib and you’ve got the coat of arms on your chest, you’re thinking about what your journey looked like, the process it took to get to this point,” he said.

“I still have my number one goal of winning an Olympic medal and that’s what I’m still striving for every single day that I turn up to training ... I’m pushing myself to be better.

“It’s really quite special and a proud moment to slip on the green and gold that’s for sure.”

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