A Very Special Weekend

It will be very difficult to write a concise article on the events of the weekend just passed. It was amazing, complex, and moving.

For people who know about canoe slalom, you will understand that the individual Bronze Medal is the highlight. But to step onto the podium again was as brilliant as it was unexpected. Before our team run semi-final, we had passed through 8 flatwater upstream gates in team formation. That was the only practice we had been able to find time for, as various members of the team had other demands on their time. We did two upstream gates above the main course before our Silver Medal winning run, that was it! The runs went so well that it will be difficult to argue for more team practice in future!

As I said, the Bronze medal was the big deal for us. I think we had put ourselves under quite a bit of pressure and I think people expected us to perform well on our home turf. We have been training on the course since it re-opened in March with an eye to that Final run on Saturday. With our poor showings in major championships in 2007 and 2008 we really wanted to set the record straight and re-establish our reputation. But more importantly I wanted to prove to ourselves that we could put good runs down when it mattered. Thankfully, we mamanged to do that, but the hard work and tough times leading up to it were difficult.

No-one can know what the future holds and we were very uncertain as to how we would respond to the challenge of racing at home. But it turned out brilliantly. The venue was immaculate, the weather brilliant and the crowd support intense! The noise was incredible as we paddled down the course and it was a real thrill. My arms were like jelly and my brain was so occupied with the gates that it was a peculiar state to be in. When we were receiving our medals after the race and the crowd were cheering it was excellent. What a privilege and what a way to showcase our sport.

It seems right that I can reflect a little on my path up to this point. From my first paddle strokes with St. Andrews Scouts, joining Viking Kayak Club and starting slalom, getting on the Junior GB Team, then making the Intermediate and Under23 team, followed by the horrendously diffcult period with my shoulder injuries in 2003. The most recent period starts when I took to C2 with Tim and started working with Mark Delaney. There has been some ups and downs, but Mark and all the programme has stuck with us. I will always be grateful for their loyalty and hard work on our behalf. We wouldn't be where we are today without their influence.

It just remains to say thanks to all our supporters, who are so generous and kind to us both. We're both dedicated to making sure this isn't the pinnacle of our career and along with our new coach Nick Smith, we're going to put together a plan to take us onward and upwards! See you on the road!


(Posted on the 1st Jun 2009)
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