I have never been so bitterly cold under sun and clear blue skys as I was today at the course in Lee Valley, paddling demos and forerunners for the team GB Olympic trials. Weather being a topic primarily saved for awkward lapses in conversations, today it was avidly discussed and agreed upon that the temperature was 'bloody freezing' and that jandals were a rather stupid choice of footwear in such bitter conditions.
Perhaps the British paddlers, although accustomed to these climates were a little less focussed on the weather as their Olympic dreams hung in the outcome of these selection races. As I sat in the start pool before my forerun, it was a different feeling to the pressure and expectation they were encountering as they aimed to conquer the pending challenge. I did not envy this stress and instead sat on the start line grateful of the opportunity to simulate a race, visualising what it will be like in just over three months time. When the familiar 'start pool' turns into the starting point for the biggest race of my life, the crowds from the British selection multiplying to over 12,000 in grandstands that line the course and when all the training and preparation will be put to the test. Those are pretty big thoughts and I didnt dwell on this for too long, but rather focussed on negotiating the race course as best I could despite the fact that paddling this channel fresh off the Kaituna is not an easy transition.
As the emotions of the high pressure racing hung in the air on day two of selections, dreams were reached and deals sealed with all of the Olympic boats qualifying their places with unbeatable two wins in a row. Deservedly, Lizzie Neave took out the K1W, David Florence the C1M, Richard Hounslow K1M and Tim Baillie and Etienne Stott the C2.
Day three tomorrow with a bit less pressure upon the above paddlers, I am praying the British sun will exert a bit more warmth. Despite the temperature, I will hold true to the Kiwi culture and rock our nations favourite footwear rain hail or shine.
The ICF training camp starts on Monday and I am looking forward to learning every single drop of water that pumps through this impressive Olympic canoe slalom course.