Laurence Fletcher - from SASI athlete to head coach

Laurence (Laurie) Fletcher was always destined to succeed at the South Australian Sports Institute (SASI), from beginning his journey as an athlete to now leading the way for others.

Laurence Fletcher

As an athlete, Fletcher competed for Australia at various U18 and U23 international competitions, empowering him with the knowledge and experience required to go on and become SASI’s Canoe Sprint Head Coach and help others achieve their dreams.

In recent years, Fletcher has worked with Matthew Goble, helping him paddle his fastest time ever and assisting him to senior World Cup, World Championship events and narrowly missing qualification for the K4 event at the Olympics.

He also helped develop 19-year-old Dan Kucharski, who won all K1 and K2 events as a junior at Nationals and just this year won the open K1 200m.

“I’ve worked with several athletes who have made junior world championship teams, but I am now looking to help develop someone into a world or Olympic champion,” Fletcher said.

Prior to 2021, Fletcher worked with all categorisations of athletes, those aged from 18 to 32, in the kayak discipline.

His job has now shifted with the implementation of a centralised program, aiming to bring athletes into a pathway that will allow them to succeed at the highest level.

“With the transition to the new program, I work in training and bringing categorised athletes up to the potential level that allows them to move onto the centralised program on the Gold Coast,” Fletcher said.

SASI athlete, Will Spencer is a K1 1000m paddler who has worked closely with Fletcher for almost two seasons.

Originally beginning his journey in surf lifesaving, Spencer aspires to make the upcoming Olympics with ongoing help from SASI and Fletcher.

“My relationship with Laurie is good, he’s a great coach and I always have fun even when working hard to achieve a common goal,” Spencer said.

Early mornings and late nights are all part of the job for Fletcher, who believes using a personalised approach is the greatest way to bring out the best in athletes.

“There’s often double sessions with a lot of the crews so I might be out on the water three times a day but it's with different groups at different times so I can individualise with them,” Fletcher said.

“Something that I took from SASI were the structures in creating cultures and environments for success.

“It’s your personal skills and how you work with individuals and it’s the same with our team here - how do we get the most out of each other and the most out of our work?”

Laurie has his sights set on further success with the hopes that his current involvement at SASI will lead him to a national coaching role soon.

“Now I aspire to be the senior Australian team coach which is a full-time position.

“I currently work with the junior Australian team, but that is seasonal, so when world champs come around then I’ll join in for that campaign and coach them.”

Laurie has already accomplished a lot in the time he has worked for SASI and there’s no doubt he will continue his success on an international stage soon.