January has been a rapid fire month for me in which I have accomplished huge leaps towards my Olympic dreams. This morning I got a phone call from the New Zealand Olympic Committee, confirming my selection into the New Zealand Olympic Team for London 2012. It's such awesome news, four years ago before the Beijing Olympic Games, I was close, but not quite there and I missed the spot. Since then I've spent a lot of time overseas, competing with athletes who are consistently in the top ten in the world. The only way I could catch them was to be open to their training styles and race techniques and adapt them for my own purposes back in New Zealand.
My month started with the Kaituna Whitewater Sessions - this was a project Czech canoeist Vavra Hradilek & myself have been working on for the past few months. The goal was to take slalom out of it's comfort zone of traditional slalom courses to the banks of the most intimidating rivers in New Zealand. The huge rains meant the Kaituna River near Rotorua was a perfect destination to test this. We strung racing gates on the class five rapids including the 7 meter Tutea Falls, the power house rapids, and the infamous Trout Pool falls. The results were incredible. We found the technical aspect from training this way was perfect preparation for London especially when it was combined with the amount of mental strength to battle the nerves eating away inside your stomach above these rapids.
Check out the full video of the Kaituna Whitewater sessions here http://vimeo.com/35661461
Following this adventure the 2012 National team trials kicked off. These consisted of 2 races in Kawerau & 2 races in Shannon. Since qualifying the NZ boat for the London Games I was pre-selected for the NZ team, but it was a great opportunity to have a thrash on the course before the Oceania Champs in late February. Due to the number of top international competitors training in New Zealand over the past 3 weeks the competition was intense. It gave me a good idea of my progress over the winter period. I finished these 4 races having had numerous top 3 times, matching it with the worlds best as well as identifying a lot to work out. It was a great measuring stick leading into the 2012 season.
Check out these media reports from the event.
I'd also like to take this chance to thanks all those who have given me such huge support, my parents, sponsors and "adoptive" international families who have helped with off season accommodation, transport and training partnerships which have enabled me to qualify for London.
I now head off to Sydney to race and train on the Sydney Olympic Games course before heading to Europe for World Cup racing and then to spend time on the London Slalom course.
For more information check out www.mikedawson.co.nz