World Championships

Slightly late but better late than never.

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YELLOW SCHOOL BUS!

At the start of September the GB team left for Washington DC for the most anticipated race in the international calendar: the Senior World Championships. I was excited for the opportunity to compete at the biggest race of the year and of course to go to America. After a flight to London, flight to Washington and then a drive to Deep Creek we eventually arrived. The essential explore round our insanely big chalet occurred and we were excited to discover the hot tub! I am still missing my post session hot tub…

The next day was a chance to get on the course for the first time. It was a tough course with boily eddy-lines but it flowed really nicely and throughout the trip I really enjoyed paddling it. The next few days I was ill and confined to my room which was annoying as I wanted to be canoeing and chatting to the others  but I couldn’t infect anyone. Also having hurt my shoulder the previous week at home meant I was fed up and pretty frustrated. I got better though and Kath the physio tirelessly helped get my shoulder to stop hurting so by a few days before the race I was back paddling reasonably well. Before we knew it the opening ceremony was upon us. I don’t think I’ll ever get bored of the excitement of walking into the crowd with the whole team in our team kit after “Great Britain” has been called.

And then it was time to race.

The next day was qualification. The course was set and wasn’t too hard so I was confident I could put down a good run. My first run was good – my first clean run a while and the only C1W to put down a clean run. 2nd runs didn’t go as well but I qualified in 14th so I was safely through to the semis which were to take place 2 days later. Friday gave me a chance to chill out and watch the men’s semifinal which was the only time I would get to see paddlers on the semi course before I paddled it.

Having not been particularly nervous about the other races this year, waking up on Saturday very nervous was surprising. I guess it was the worlds and having that extra hype must have meant I wanted to do extra well. After the usual routine of a pre warmup, walking the course myself, walking it with my coach and then chilling for a bit I was ready. Nervous but ready.

20 mins to go  – get on to warmup

Photo - Nina Jelenc
Photo – Nina Jelenc

7 mins to go – go up conveyor belt

5 mins to go – briefly say a few words to my coach

1.5mins to go – go to start blocks

40s to go – splash my face

30s to go – think about the first 5 gates

8s to go – push away from start block.

I’m away.

I was nicely through gate 1-8 and kept movement on the boat but I missed the exit from gate 8 so had to turn round and do it again. This cost me 10s. Refocusing I was through gate 9-11 well. Coming down the drop I landed reasonably in the upstream. Controlling the exit I flew across the wave, spun the gate and then onto gate 16. I carried out the crux move gate 17-19 reasonably. A slightly slow spin cost me time but I did it cleanly which was better than others. Finishing the run after 23 gates put me in 4th, having the major time loss at gate 8 and 4s in penalties may have cost me but I just had to wait to see how everyone else did.

Watching the competition paddle down and knowing only 6 out of 13 can go ahead of me otherwise I was out the final was excruciating. Once everyone was down it was clear I was in 12th. Originally I was disappointed but having had some time to think about it I realise that if someone had said I would have achieved that result at the start of the year I would have laughed in their face. Expectations and goals have just risen throughout the year and sometimes it takes a bit of time to remind myself of the facts.

This year has been incredible. 8 international races, 8 different countries, new friends I have made and so many experiences and memories I will never forget.

For now it’s time to put the passport back in the drawer and focus on some British races, winter training and of course the start of uni! Challenging but definitely exciting times are ahead, just need to keep my head down and work hard 🙂

Silver in team runs :)
Silver in team runs 🙂
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Sunset on the chairlift by our chalet
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A first for everything…

Selfie with KangarooTo 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 f10431146_10152159460857584_1540501741429329335_o (1)orward 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 10435638_822908754386638_668826594275267043_ncouldn’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.