Just sent of Liam’s rendering of our new boat design for this year. Can’t wait to see the finished product from Nelo..!
So finally back to racing after what seems like an eternity since the Olympics. We were really happy to come away from this World Cup race with a silver medal as it confirms that we are getting back to form after a relatively short preparation period.
For those of you who not know about Szeged, it is possibly the best place to race as a sprint canoeist. The Hungarians are madly passionate about the sport and Szeged is their Wembley stadium. The course itself Is extremely narrow, really giving the impression of being on a racing track, it’s essentially a drag strip for us paddlers. The experience of lining up with a huge and excited crowd is always a buzz. As a crew, Liam and I have had good memories of racing here, winning our first World Cup race together here back in 2010 and qualifying for the Olympic Games with a World Champs Silver medal in 2011. As such we were really happy that this course would be our comeback race after the games.
The field for the race was strong, including the Russian Olympic champions and Olympic Silver medallists from Belarus so we knew it would be a tough test. In the heat we made a bit of a faux pas, not pushing quite a strongly as we could have and subsequently giving the automatic finals place to the crew from Argentina by 9 hundredths of a second. Really frustrating as we then had to go through the semi-final round to make it to the final.
This race went much better though, we were fully focused and achieved some of the technical goals we had set out for ourselves before the race. We won comfortably ahead of Sweden and Denmark and booked our place in the next day’s final.
Now the final was another story all together and a massive learning experience for us. Now I’m not one to complain but the starter for this race was ludicrous! He elongated the “ready, set” calls to such a ridiculous extent that it left everyone in the race perplexed. Consequentially, several crews messed up the start, including us. When you have a good starter, he gives crisp, clear orders with a good and slightly variable rhythm. This means that if you false start, you really have no one else to blame. However when a starter completely mixes it up out of the blue, you end up with the potential to spoil the racing for everyone. That said, we blame ourselves and will be sure to be ready for this eventuality in the future and will make sure it doesn’t effect our race again. So we were off, but had given time away to everyone else in the race…. as you will see from the video below. We came through strongly and showed good speed to come through the field and finish second, but we were left disappointed that we hadn’t given ourselves a better chance and subsequently built on our strong paddling in the semi final.
So it turns out you never stop learning as a crew! We are now flying over mainland continental Europe in a little turbo-prop aircraft heading to Prague for World Cup 2. This race is in Racice, about an hour from Prague so we will travel there and spend the rest of the week training and preparing on the lake. It’s a nice racecourse though it lacks the Szeged atmosphere. We have a lot to work on this week so hopefully we will put it to good practice next Sunday!
Well after a long break and lots of training, the time has finally come to step back onto the world stage. We enjoyed a long period of recuperation after the games, getting back into full time training in january. I have to say my body needed this rest to get out lots of issues that were right on the edge at the games. Myself, Liam and Ed have had a good preparation period since january, enjoying tough training camps out in Cuba and Seville. As always we have been pushing hard and have made improvements fast. Now comes the time to test this out against the rest of the world..
Racing in Szeged is always fun as it is a great racecourse and always a lot of people out in support. We don’t know what to expect results-wise but we will be sure to give it our all. Will send out an update after the racing but in the meanwhile here are some details to help you follow the progress of myself and the rest of Team GB out here.
Live results: http://results.digicorp.hu/competition/16777283/races
Live ICF Video Feed: http://eurovision.digotel.com/icf/index.html
Eurosport UK and HD coverage
Saturday: 9.30-11.00 GMT – Mens 1000m and Women’s 500m Finals
Sunday: 9.00-10.00 GMT – 500m and 200m Finals (Including Womens K4 500m)
The last few weeks have been a bit of a whirlwind! Three weeks ago I was nervous as anything, laying in my hotel room waiting to race at the Olympics. It had been a long wait, we were competing on the second to last day of the games and had been watching Team GB’s astonishing success for the previous two weeks. We really wanted to be a part of it.. The heat and semi-final didn’t go so well, we were late out of the blocks both times and struggled as a consequence. We made it to the final though, so it was all to play for. The finals day was an atmosphere I have never felt before, and maybe never will again. So much buzz around the course and huge cheers for all the GB athletes. Liam and I had the pleasure of watching Ed Mckeever win the first ever 200m gold medal in kayaking in the Olympics. A tremendous performance, which raised the roof! This was for us a little bit of extra pressure, however it also provided confidence as we train day-in day-out with Ed so we knew the training must have been working.
We felt composed before the final, nervous but in control. The roar that greeted the announcement of our names was spine chilling and further sealed our determination. We had conferred about how to improve our start for the final and executed perfectly, having seen the video replay we really got out better than anyone. The rest of the race was a complete blur, after so much training you are pretty much on autopilot.. We crossed the line and I didn’t have a clue where we finished, after it was confirmed we had the bronze medal, I pretty much lost it! I hammered my paddle down on the deck in celebration, snapping it in half, but I couldn’t have cared less! After so much preparation and years at the top level of the sport, it was a huge relief to feel we had represented ourselves to the best of our abilities and come away with an OLYMPIC MEDAL!
After the race I was pretty much floating around, from interviews, to the podium, more interviews, greeting the wonderful Eton Dorney supporters and games makers, more interviews and finally a reception with friends and family at our hotel. This was the first time to catch up with a few of the people who supported us on the day and for the whole of our careers. I would like to take this chance to publicly thank a small number of people who have helped both directly and through their inspiration over many many years. This isn’t an exhaustive list, there are far too many people to name, I’ve been so lucky to have been involved with great people ever since I started canoeing aged 10. I appreciate your help and guidance so much.
Alex Nikonorov. My coach. I think the whole of the 200m squad owe their careers to this man. He believed in us and set out a very clever and sensible training program, which gave us a head start on the world in 2010 and has continued to help us progress ever since. Most importantly he gave me back the belief and confidence in my abilities, which had completely disappeared in 2009. He deals with us with respect, trust and gives so much effort day to day over the whole year. He also deals with me when I’m sullen or difficult and manages to get them best out of me in the end.
Tim Brabants. Tim may not realise it, but he has been an inspiration, trailblazing the path for the GB team and demonstrating what is possible for a British paddler to achieve. More than this, he has demonstrated how to do it, with rigorous application to training, determination, single mindedness and discipline. When i joined the sprint squad in 2007, it was clear he was a step ahead in his personal conduct and this brought home the results he deserved. These results have carried the team over my whole career and have ensured the funding, which has been key to our success, continues. He has had a tough fight to get to London, facing the bane of every athletes career, Injury. He fought through and performed with distinction in London, which I hope in years to come he will realise was an achievement in itself. He will always be an Olympic champion, the trailblazer and superstar in our sport. His Beijing performance was the best 1000m I have ever seen and no one will forget that. I hope his injury worries are behind him and we will see many more years of top performances from Tim.
Ed Mckeever. Having a training partner this fast always helps, nothing is tougher than racing Ed and we have to do it quite often! He deals well with my ups and downs and is going to be a great ambassador for our sport. Joining Tim hopefully he will massively raise the profile of kayaking in this country. Thanks for keeping us honest and helping us both fulfil our potential!
My Dad (Peter). My parents have both been very supportive, however it was my dad that drove me around the country and Europe from the first weekend I started racing, pretty much non-stop for the next decade. It’s not easy to succeed in this sport without parental backing, and my dad went beyond the call of duty. He ended up running the sport of wild water racing for many years, providing many others with the opportunities I enjoyed. I’m very proud of him for this. He continues to support from the sidelines and take many great photos.
My first coaches. Simon Moore for introducing me to paddling for fun. Jon Royle and Ben Nelson for taking me on at a young age and giving me the belief to be the worlds best. Kevin Bowerbank for taking me to the next level and giving me the training plan I needed to progress, also an indispensable source of knowledge and advice over the years. Jonathan Folland, took me to the top of the world in wild water racing and taught me so much about myself as an athlete. He dedicated so much time and thought to me and I really appreciated it.
The wildwater racing family. These guys have been my second family and basically looked after me and ensured that I grew up okay! In no particular order and apologies to anyone I forget! ; Jes and Jo Oughton, Jamie Christie, Alan Tordoff, Simon Wright, Stuart Smith, Nigel Jones, Pete Keron, Richard Forbes, Grant Anderson, Michael Mason, Neil Blackman, Miranda Churchill, Robert Knebel, Tomas Slovak, Robert Pontarollo.
Katherine Ready. Katherine is the team physio and by far the best physio I have had the pleasure of working with. In no small part she got me through the last two years in one piece. I’ve no doubt I would have struggled without her help and understanding.
Liam Heath. Pretty obvious one really! He’s just the best front man I could have possibly dreamed of! He is far more than just a paddler though, he is a great guy who puts up with me all year round and makes the the day to day life a pleasure.
Rachel Cawthorn. My long suffering girlfriend! She does such a great job keeping me on an even keel. I’m so lucky to have her in my life and its also an inspiration seeing her day to day application to training. She is possibly the most talented athlete I have ever known, I mean this even though I’m often in very illustrious company! She has the ability to take on the world and I’m sure with renewed confidence she will go on to do this.
Finally all my friends outside the sport who have supported my lifestyle and kept my feet firmly on the ground for so many years.
We spent the last couple of days of the games in the Olympic park doing various bits of media and enjoying the closing ceremony, which was epic! It was such a buzz to be involved with the closing ceremony of an Olympic Games and really brought home not just what we accomplished but what he had had the pleasure to experience. The games makers and the organisers of the games have done such an unbelievable job of putting together a perfect Olympics and making absolutely everyone feel welcome. It was our pleasure to compete in it and you really don’t get the plaudits you deserve!
I’ve had a bit of time off since the games, visiting friends and family and having a short break down in Cornwall last week. I also had the pleasure of joining the Clitheroe Torchlight procession. Samantha Murray (silver medallist in modern pentathlon) and myself traveled around the town on the back of a pickup truck greeting the local townspeople and showing off our medals. The Olympics was such a nation-wide effort that it really felt right to be sharing the medals and the enjoyment they bring with the people of the town which where we grew up. It was also a pretty cool experience being in front of such crazy fun crowds, despite the traditional Lancashire drizzle!
Now I’m heading off to Portugal to compete in the Nelo kayaks Summer Challenge Surfski race. Nelo have been our biggest supporter for a number of years now, we appreciate their amazing boats, work ethic and hospitality. Can’t wait to get to the event as its going to be amazing times.. Then hopefully I’ll be getting around the country a bit more, catching up with friends who I haven’t had the chance to see for such a long time and then taking a long holiday!
Thanks again GB for a phenomenal Olympic games, I’ll never forget it!
Hey, well here is a little video showing what a typical day in my life is like. Great times paddling on the Thames with nice weather and no wind..! All filmed on the gobandit HD action camera which have been generously given to us buy the guys at assist creative resources. Enjoy!
LINK FOR IPHONE USERS! (should be working soon..)
P.S. Be sure to watch it it 720pHD!
I’m now well back into the training routine and am also happy to announce some new sponsors onboard. Assist Creative Resources have been kind enough to provide Liam and I with Gobandit GPS action cameras and the latest Timex Ironman GPS. These great products allow us to keep track of our training and also film it…
The Gobandit GPS is also the worlds first GPS enabled action camera, this allows you to overlay skinds indicateding your speed, distance, altitude etc.. You can also track your routes on google maps and display them in realtime along with the video footage. I look forward to showing off some footage soon! With this in mind, here is a trailer for the next film we are making, be sure to watch it in HD 720p!;
It’s “A day in the life of…” and will be following Liam and i throughout a typical winter training day. Hopefully it will look pretty cool and give you an idea what life is like for a full time 200m athlete..:)
My season is now over, in a good way, all events finished, goals achieved and time to rest and think about next year..
The world championships in Szeged were a great experience, if a bit nervewracking! Hungary are the bigest proponents of flatwater kayaking and put on a show to prove this. The event managament was almost of olympic proportions with everything running super smoothly. The spectators also turned out in force, i dont know how many were there but this picture gives you an idea, i have never not been able to hear my paddle enter the water but during the 200m it was just a wall of noise!
The race was huge for us as we had to finish in the top 6 in order to qualify a boat for next years Olympics. In an event as tight as ours there was no room for being over confident. Our training leading into the champs had been great and we were feeling as comfortable and well drilled in the boat as we ever have, however we still had to convert this. The heats and semis went really well, only 2 boats qualify from the semi to the final which means this is always a nervous time. However we raced really soildly to beat a quality Latvian crew and qualify as the fastest through to the final.
Now the final was something else! The crowed had filled up and the noise was awesome, it really was the situation that every top athlete relishes. We could barely hear the start orders but reacted really well and had the best start of our year, we needed it though! The French crew stayed with us and when they start well they are hard to beat. We managed to push ahead of the rest of
the field but the French pipped us to the line. Not that i knew this crossing the line, typically in the back of a K2 you cant see the other crews and for some reason i was convinced that we had missed out on the medal, my relief when we saw the score board was huge! Its a nice feeling to better last years result and being beaten by such a quality crew has no shame in it. We can now train in the knowledge that there is an Olympic space available for GB and we are determined to fill it.
Following the world championships i again had the opportunity to compete in the nelo summer challenge, an ocean surfski race. It was a huge amount of fun and in think i learnt a lot! The surfski professionals are a friendly bunch and it was a great break from the racing which i’m so used to. Everyone raced hard and partied hard, I’m sure ill be back for more after the Olympics.
The final event of our season was the pre-olympic test event at Dorney lake. For us this was not a major goal, more an opportunity to test logistics for the olympics and for the organizers to test the race course setup. This is the first international canoeing regatta which has been held at Dorney so it was really strange for us to see it dressed up as a fully functioning race venue. I have to say the organizers did a great job and the lake looked superb. It was well received by the visiting foreign athletes, who particularly enjoyed how fast the course can be once a tailwind picks up..!
The racing went well despite not having much time training together before. We had a poor start in the final but the rest of the race was really good, pulling us back into a medal position, eventually finishing 3rd. This is however a result that we will be looking to upgrade when we race at Dorney again next august..:)
Now we have a few weeks to recover and slowly get back into training before hitting the winter hard. Its also time to reflect on the help I have received this year. I am again indebted to my coach Alex Nikonorov who has expertly guided me through the year, getting the most out of me in training and keeping me injury free. Our physio Katherine Ready has been key on keeping me in one piece and Ginny Coyles our performance analyst deserves a medal for all the hard work she has put in. The support of UKsport and the lottery funding has been invaluable in enabling me to train full time with out the need for another job. Lifeplan nutritional products have also been extremely kind in supporting me with various nutritional products which have undoubtedly helped me develop and stay healthy. I hope i can do everyone proud again next year and look forward to working with you!
Well you may now know that Liam and I won the European Champs last weekend, defending our title from last year. Here is a link to the race report for us and the rest of the GB team;
It was a really interesting weekend as in the heat we had to deal with the first bad start we have ever had. I sliced my right blade which meant we had to stop and start again, giving everyone nearly a boat-length head start. From that position it should be all over in the 200m event, however we paddled our best and managed to pull through the whole field to take second place. Securing our place In the final.
This actually gave us a lot of confidence for the final as it was proof our form was good. So long as we got an okay start..! The final went very smoothly, pulling safely out of the blocks and dominating down most of the race.
It was a great feeling to defend a title and definitely harder mentally than winning one!
Now we have 8 weeks to get seriously fast before the World Champs and Olympic qualifying..
After a long winters training I was back in action this weekend with the rest of the GB canoeing team at the first world cup of the year. It was our first opportunity to gauge our progress and standard against the rest of the world and the signs were good. After a really good heat we had a good duel with the French crew in the final and were pipped to the line to take second place behind the reigning world champions.
We now have two weeks to get some more training and refocus before the second world cup which will be held in Racice in the Czech republic. Hopefully we can step up from this weekend and take a win which will be a great step towards the defense of our European title later in the year..
Pictures and video of the racing to come soon..
We are back in our usual winter haunt #Seville and I’ve got a new boat courtesy of Nelo Kayaks..! Its fantastic to see how close to the design the guys at Nelo managed to make it. Liam also has a matching one so we look a right pair on the water..!
So far the weather here has been pretty wet and cool though things seem to be picking up now so fingers crossed for a nice few weeks warm weather training.. The breakfast buffet at the hotel we are staying in is legendary so we make sure to eat a small breafast in our rooms, fit in the first training session before returning to have a giant second breakfast. Its the little things ey..!
Also here is a pic of my coffee making setup out here.. The Aeropress is a godsend and another one of the little things that keeps me going..