Slightly late but better late than never.
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
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 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 🙂