World’s Wrap up: Thoughts and thanks...
So now one week on from returning from the ICF Freestyle Kayaking World Championships I think my body has finally recovered from one of the funnest and most interesting experiences of my life so far.
This was my first international event and it was an amazing experience. In two weeks I met hundreds of new people, from over twenty different countries all with one thing in common, kayaking. Meeting people is one of the funnest parts of kayaking events and on this international level it really is fantastic to see people who come from all over the world having fun and living together in one big campsite.
As well as meeting new people there is also the main event, freestyle kayaking. I have never competed in sport at this high level before and it was a different ball game to anything I have tried before. The competition still felt as fun as a smaller domestic event but there was a more serious undertone of competitiveness. Everyone who was there, regardless of what they may have said about not being worried about where they finished all wanted to do their best and most of them had goal in mind of where they wanted to finish. In the lead up to events I could feel the tension, sitting on the bank before each heat watching the other competitors take their rides, looking back to see the stands and banks full of people, all watching on, some cheering, others not. Coping with pressure is something that I feel I managed to do well, staying focussed under pressure in this situation felt like something I could do then and would be able to replicate. I think I had made it much easier for myself by putting in long hours of training in the six months building up to the event, sometimes this was hard, early morning starts to paddle before work, often alone in cold grey drizzle. At the time this was often demoralising, cold and tiring but by the time it came to the event I was so glad I had put the time in.
The nervous time before each heat
Another thing which is not so regular at domestic events is being part of a team, within team GB there is a fantastic unity, everyone supports each other during there prospective events, giving words of encouragement just before events, cheering from the stands during events and congratulations after each event. Regular team meetings and a good social element also helped to foster a feeling of unity which was fantastic.
Of course there was also the numerous parties which for some people seemed to go more days than others, depending on which round you made it into. Each party seemed to vary in size, and who was there but all were equally entertaining with German beer being the common factor.
So really looking back at Worlds just makes me want to do it again, the experience is so amazing and well worth the hard work to get through selections, and make it out to the event.
Finally I have to say thanks to a few people who’s support has been invaluable both in the lead up to World’s and my kayaking life in general. Firstly my Mum and Dad who have supported me through everything I have done in life, especially in the pursuit of kayaking, my dad starting me off and then giving me lifts when I needed them, loaning me money for kit when I needed it and generally being ace. The rest of my family for their continued support in everything I do. Then Pete and Mike Scutt from Whitewater: The Canoe Centre who taught me alot about how to paddle, they were always around to paddle every day of the week, all year round and could always motivate me to get on for just a little bit longer, even in the depths of winter. Ben White for doing the squirt boat specific coaching before and during the event, who always had the right thing to say just before each ride to keep us relaxed. The rest of the team for supporting each other before, during and after each event. And finally Dave Newport, Tim Ward and all of the other ‘Behind the scenes’ people from GB Freestyle kayaking for putting in tons of hard work to ensure Team GB can perform at its best whilst at events and training in the build up. Thanks very much to all those mentioned and all of those I have forgotten.
Also a big thanks to the people that made this event possible, the ICF, all of the Sponsors and Robert Sommer and Anne Hubner who both put in a lot of hard work.
Below are a few photos from the World Championships, some have been taken byAndy Aldred, Matt Rodgers, Andy Rodgers and Katya Kulkova
Until next time.
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