David Florence (born 8 August 1982) is a British slalom canoeist who has competed since the early 2000s. He was the 2013 and 2015 world champion in individual canoe (C-1) slalom, and 2013 pairs canoe (C-2) slalom, the latter with Richard Hounslow. Florence was the first canoeist since Charles Dussuet, sixty years earlier, to achieve the C-1, C-2 'double' in the same world championships.
Florence won silver medals at three consecutive Olympics: in the C-1 in 2008 and in the C-2 in 2012 and 2016 (with Richard Hounslow).
Having been born in Aberdeen, Florence lived in Edinburgh between the ages of 7 and 18 on the same street as future world and Olympic cycling champion Chris Hoy. He attended Roseburn Primary School and Stewarts Melville College secondary school and, as a result, has a SMBC. He began canoeing at the age of 14, on the Water of Leith, and was eventually invited to join the Forth Canoe Club, where most of his training was done on the Union Canal. He went to the University of Nottingham and studied mathematical physics, but says his main reason for choosing to move to Nottingham was because it is the home of the National Watersports Centre. His father, George, is a former Scottish canoeing champion and his brother, Fraser also canoes for Scotland. His Uncle Angus Florence also canoed for Scotland.
Florence finished 4th in the 2005 European Championships and 15th in the World Championships the same year. He also won a bronze medal in the World Cup event in Seu. In 2006 he improved to a sixth-place finish in the World Championships, won a bronze in the C-1 team, and took the gold medal at the World Cup in Augsburg. In 2007 he took 5th place at the World Championships and two World Cup medals, bronzes in Prague and Augsburg. In 2009 he started competing in C-2 alongside Richard Hounslow and he won a silver in the C-2 team event at the 2009 world championships in La Seu d'Urgell. He went on to win a bronze in the C-2 event at the 2010 world championships in Tacen and another one in the C-2 team event at the 2011 world championships in Bratislava. At the 2013 world championships in Prague he won 2 golds (C-1 and C-2) and 1 bronze (C-2 team).
In 2009 he won the overall World Cup title in C-1. Florence also has seven medals from the European Championships (1 gold, 1 silver and 5 bronzes).
At the 2008 Summer Olympics, in Beijing, Florence competed in the men's slalom C-1, solo whitewater canoeing event. He finished second overall, winning the silver medal behind Slovakian world number one Michal Martikán. He completed his preliminary runs of the course at the Shunyi Olympic Rowing-Canoeing Park in 89.47 and 82.16 seconds, to lie 3rd overall, with a total time of 171.63 seconds, heading into the semifinal. His semifinal time of, 90.46 seconds, qualifying him for the final in 4th place out of the ten advancing competitors. His final run of 88.15 seconds gave him a total time 178.61 seconds and meant he led with only Martikán left to compete, however the Slovakian went almost 2 seconds faster to push Florence into the silver medal position. After the event Florence said he had been inspired by the sight of Rebecca Adlington winning her 400 metres freestyle gold medal the day before.
Florence qualified for the C-1 event at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London at the British trials. Thanks to the fact that his C-2 partner Richard Hounslow qualified for the K-1 event, they were able to start together in the C-2 event as the second British boat in that category. Florence was a favourite to medal especially in the C-1 event, but he failed to make the final after a semifinal run full of mistakes. He finished down in 10th place which was a disappointment for him as well as the local fans. He and Hounslow (who also had a disappointing run in K-1) made amends in the C-2 event where they were able to win the silver medal behind their compatriots Timothy Baillie and Etienne Stott and ahead of the three-time defending champions Pavol and Peter Hochschorner.
Before the 2008 Olympics Florence had applied to become an astronaut in the European Space Agency's astronaut training programme in response to an advert he had seen, and was so serious about it that he began learning Russian, a mandatory requirement for the position. However he was not among the four people selected from the 8,400 applicants and received a rejection letter a short time before the start of the Olympics. After winning his Olympic medal he said of the application; "It wasn't a whim... It was an opportunity that came along to apply for something incredible. I tried but didn't get in."