The first target event for me this season has been and gone, just like the entire month of February that I spent in Sydney, Australia training on the 2000 Olympic course.
Like New Zealand, the Aussie summer didn't fire either, but this created awesome training conditions for us. Usually the temperature around the course is above 40 degrees at this time of the year, but a somewhat pleasant overcast 25 degrees made training and recovery that much less taxing on the body meaning we could get so much more out of the camp. The goal of this one month mission was to test myself against the 200+ international paddlers escaping the northern hemisphere winter in order to train for their Olympic Selections coming up in the next few months. The main focus was racing the Oceania Championships and Australian team selection as 45 of the top 50 in the world would be on the start line.
Ten days before the race my support crew arrived so we could also test our procedures and plans for the Games early in the season. This consisted of Jane Borren from the Wairaiki Institute of Sport, my coach Rob Bell and Manager Les Dawson. The preparation couldn't have gone better and I found myself sitting on the start feeling awesome, confident and fired up for a good result in this race. The 1st knock-out round was the qualification where the field is culled from 100+ athletes to just 40. A quick run saw me in 6th place just 1.5seconds off the pace. This progressed me to the semifinal. A wicked run, but a judges call added 50 seconds onto my time pushing me from 4th to 27th and out of the final. I was somewhat disappointed for creating a situation where the judge could give me a time penalty but some days it just happens - I have a lot to take out of the the raw times showing the season is progressing to plan.
Straight from the race to the airport I arrived back to a "winters day " in what should be the NZ summer. Straight from the Airport to the Sky TV/NZOC commercial partners launch event of the 9 Channels that they will screening to bring London to the living rooms of all New Zealanders. So every Olympic moment will be captured for New Zealanders to see. It was an amazing evening, and I came away very inspired by the likes of Barbara Kendall and Hamish Carter who made some cameo appearances at the event. I also attended the London athlete workshops at Lake Karapiro which was an exciting day meeting NZOC staff, athletes and their support staff with uniform fittings and insights into how the Olympic Village and venues are shaping up. It is awesome to know I've been out on the London canoe slalom venue already.
Right now it's back to the banks of the Kaituna River doing lap after lap in between the rafts on the small slalom course at the outlet of Lake Roto iti. It's great to be back in New Zealand.
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