To say the last few months have been busy is an understatement. Five international races in five different countries, one on the other side of the world, thousands of miles done in my wee car and the occasional week at home. The A1M and the M6 have become too familiar but now I am home for 10 days so I thought I should look back at the races so far.
The last 5 races have been a “first” for many things. First time to Australia, first time to four different race sites: Penrith,Vienna, Prague and Macedonia, first senior team trip, first senior final (which then happened twice again!) and first top 5 at a championship event. The “first” that I am most happy with and most proud of is my first international individual medal which I won at the London World Cup. So instead of writing a long essay about all the races I wrote a wee bit about London in the hope to share my excitement and what it means to me 🙂
London World Cup
As the world cup grew closer the weather got better and excitement was rising as the London Olympic course was decked out in flags once again. It was strange seeing all the incredible foreign paddlers coming to our home course and as it grew closer to the start of the race on Friday the atmosphere grew in anticipation. Friday arrived and there was a fairly straightforward gate sequence set and I knew I could do a good run. Having had two decent runs in qualification meant I went through to the semi-final in 8th. Friday night was a quiet affair, cooking pasta in the hotel room with my roommate Jazz and watching a film. Saturday morning was an early start to get to the course to do a pre-warm up, make a plan for the course by myself and then walk the course again with my coach, Craig Morris. My semi-final run was not great and although I was disappointed I managed to squeeze into the final which meant I had another chance to paddle my best. I put the semi-final behind me, only taking forward what constructive feedback I could from the gate sequence set. Having had some food I was ready to plan again and do it better in the final.
One of the moves (gates 9-10) was a particularly tricky few gates on a tough part of the course. Having done it poorly in my semi-final I was determined to pull it off in the final. I spoke to my coach from home (Neil Caffrey) before I made a plan and he went over it very simply, I made sure I knew 100% what the plan was and then that was it. I did not think about it again until visualised my plan before my run. Neil also said “Look the worst you can do is come 10th so just go for it. Go for a medal.” This is what I said to Craig, my coach at the race, when we met to make a plan. So, I had a good plan, a course I knew well and liked and I had nothing to lose.
Because of the scorching weather and due to it being Saturday the venue had started to fill with people as I sat on the start line for the final. I was incredibly positive and calm. I was ready.
I paddled away from the start blocks and I was off. The first 8 gates went well and as I approached one of the biggest drops on the course I gritted my teeth with determination, jumped onto the curl, flew across the stopper and landed perfectly in gate 10. After that a feeling of relief swept over me, I just had to keep focused and complete the rest of the course well. I made a mistake being low in an up-right on the bottom bit drop but I kept my head and just carried on. The incredible British crowd cheered me to the finish line which I crossed in 1st place. Although this did not mean much because there were 7 other girls to come down, I was happy with my run and that was the most important thing.
It was then that I had to go stand infront of the cameras as they filmed my reaction when the other boats completing their runs. The interviewers asked at the end what I was thinking and to be honest I just felt like I was going to faint. It was the most tense feeling ever! As boat after boat came down and went behind me I genuinely couldn’t believe it. Some of the best paddlers in the world were coming down the course and I couldn’t comprehend how I was still in the lead. Then when Katerina Hoskova (CZE) went behind me I knew I had got a medal and I was just elated. I couldn’t believe it. Next was Nanqin Chen (CHN). She was having an excellent run I assumed she would take the lead but a mistake on the last big cross meant she capsized. I HAD AT LEAST A SILVER MEDAL!!!! Tears of happiness came on pretty fast! So, would it be gold? Mallory Franklin (GBR) was starting her run. She is incredible on the London course and as I expected she took the lead. But I was ecstatic. I HAD WON A SILVER MEDAL!! I ran to find my parents, cried with them, cried with my friends and called my coach who wouldn’t understand why I was crying. I was just so happy. I couldn’t find the words. In that moment I knew all the hard work, the sheer amount of hard work was worth it.