Wednesday 13th August 2008

Blew it!

I blew it. I was pushed a long way off line exiting upstream gate 4 to 5. After just managing to duck into 5, I couldn't get back to 6 and had to paddle back up for it. The time loss was large and resulted in me finishing in last place in the semi-final (15th).

Its quite dissapointing and I'm very jealous of all the medal winners. But actually, I'm not kicking myself too much... I prepared well... I had a good attacking attitude and was confident at the start line... the run began well. I'm not really sure why I made the error at gate 5 - I have yet to watch it on video. But I know it was not due to caution, distraction or trying too hard. Maybe it was just one of those things that happens in canoe slalom? Maybe I did not quite react as required? Sometimes you win slalom races, sometimes your last. Its a hard sport!

I honestly believe that I could not have done anything different to prepare better. I was proud of how I started the run and how I attacked the rest of the run in an attempt to win back some time. I feel I can leave Beijing with my head held high. Thanks to all the people who sent me best wishes before the race and got in touch after it - I really appreciate it.

Big congratulations to GB's David Florence on a top performance to finish 2nd in C1 behind the legendary Michal Martikan. I'll be cheering Fiona Pennie on now today and tomorrow in the womens K1.

Thursday 7th August 2008

The British Embassy

The final week of training and preperation in Beijing is pretty similar to at any other Championship race - quality sessions and plenty of good recovery between them. I have a rest day today as the slalom venue is closed for final security checks. Its been nice and interesting to have the GB rowing team in the same accomodation. As they are such a large team, I have ended up meeting and eating with new people at every meal time!

A pleasant break from the norm was a trip to the British Embassy for an official Team GB function last night. Everyone looked very dapper in their Olympic suits. It was at this function that the Opening Ceremony flag bearer would be announced. I had been nominated for the job as a representative of canoe slalom by our team leader John Anderson. I was happy that John nominated me, but fully expected to hear nothing about it. It turns out that the vast majority of Team GB are not attending the Opening Ceremony because they are either not in Beijing yet or they are competing in the first 2 days. This left me on a short-list of only 6 potential flag bearers!

The thought that it could be me was quite daunting! The 50m freestyle swimmer Mark Foster was deservedly awarded the honour. Beijing is his 5th Olympic Games, and that includes having missed out on Athens in 2004!

8 is a special number in China because it is thought to be very lucky. Tomorrow's opening ceremony is taking place on 8/8/2008, and will start at 8:08pm. And... it is also David Florence's birthday!

A news article that I was forwarded... Mail Online - what have they done to the colour of my boat!!!!

The canoe slalom athletes and support staff at British Embassy, Beijing.

Team GB function at British Embassy, Beijing.

Sunday 3rd August 2008

Training and visiting the Olympic Village

Training has been going well in the last week. I've been paddling faster and with more consistency than I had done on any of the previous training camps here in Beijing. This has been really pleasing. Its a very difficult whitewater course, so continually learning more about the features and moves helps. As does the fact that I am not putting in big volume sessions, but instead focussing on doing fewer and shorter sessions with higher quality. However, I am still making far more 'big mistakes' than I am accustomed to doing on a daily basis on the smaller, easier European race courses. I would normally class a big mistake as a 2second timeloss - here, it is sometimes a 10second re-circ or a complete blow-out!

The race venue looks set to go with a huge 12,000 capacity grandstand all around the outside of the U-shaped course and a big TV screen next to the scoreboard.

I went to have a look around the Olympic Village a few days ago. Its impressive on several counts. Firstly, the appartments looked very comfortable. The main food hall is always a talking point and it did not dissapoint - I'd love to give you the dimensions, but I cant find them, so you'll just have to take my word for it that it is huge! The gym was awesome - all the equipment you could think of, including several racks of brand new Olympic barbells, 50-60 of them! I wish we could take a few back to our gym in Nottingham!

Campbell and David

Campbell, David and Mark catching the bus to the village

GB Headquarters at the Olympic Village.

The gym at the Olympic Village.

The slalom venue from outside.

Monday 28th July 2008

Arrival in Beijing

I've been in Beijing for 2 days now. My biggest impression is... its hot and humid... very humid! Training in these conditions is quite tough and I have been adopting as many cooling techniques as possible: iced drinks, iced towels over the head between runs and ice jacket post-session!

The flight out was very comfortable and passed without incident. Thankfully, our many bags and all the boats and equipment arrived safely. We are not staying at the Olympic village, but at a hotel next to the Olympic Rowing and Canoeing Park. Actually, it is more like a holiday resort - its huge! This is the same place we stayed for every training camp so it feels very familiar now. With all the GB canoeing (7) and rowing (43!) athletes staying here, Team GB have kitted out the place like a mini village for us. There is an athlete lounge and a dining hall where food is provided. A nice touch was to arrive in our rooms and find the Team GB logo embroidered onto our pillows and bedsheets!

Campbell and his bags!

Pillow and bedsheets at our accomodation!