Peter Cowan paddles his waka in a quiet river

Name: Peter Cowan
Born: 22 June 1995
Home Town: Hastings
Chosen Sport: Para canoe – Va’a (waka ama)
Coach: Myka Nuku
Classification: VL3
Eligible impairment: limb deficiency
Health condition: above knee amputee

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Peter Cowan Athlete


Para athlete Peter Cowan competes in an adaptive version of waka ama, known internationally as Para va’a, which is a division of Para canoe at the Paralympic Games.

Peter competes in the VL3 classification.

Aged 15, Peter was training on his bike for the IronMāori triathlon when he was clipped by an oncoming car. After the serious accident, Peter later made the difficult decision to amputate his injured leg. In his last year of high school, he discovered paddling and soon fell in love with the sport.

Peter won two golds and a silver in the World Waka Ama Championships, and also placed fourth in the 2018 ICF Canoe Sprint World Championships. At the 2022 ICF Canoe Sprint and Para Canoe World Championships, Peter placed 8th in the VL3 event.

In the 2023 World Championships in Germany, Peter showed his potential to be at the pointy end of the field, finishing 9th in his VL3 200m event in one of the tightest finals of the competition. 

Peter has another opportunity to qualify for the Paris 2024 Paralympics at World Cup 1 in Szeged, Hungary in May 2024.

Attitude’s documentary on Peter. Check out more great Attitude documentaries.