I had a short, sweet and mostly enjoyable tour to the European continent for two of the three world cups. It started with a few days in Portugal at the official Nelo Training centre in Montebelo Aguieira. We were blessed with some really great warmer weather compared to previous years in Europe. The accommodation was extremely comfortable with buffet meals and the biggest lake to paddle on! Louis Hattingh and myself explored the lake for the first two sessions doing some long paddles; I must say I felt like I needed a GPS to get me home again so luckily Louis remembered. We also had a few early morning sessions in the mist that was an extremely overwhelming feeling on such a big piece of water; Craig lost us once trying to follow on the motorboat. It was also great to have Michele Eray there with team USA so that I sometimes had some female training partners.
World cup 1 in Portugal was a challenging one due to the wind, however the weather was mostly favourable as the sun came out and we could even race without a thermal top. I had been having some trouble with my lavator scapulae however on the day of the 500m final I felt quite good and ready to race. The final was a better race plan with places 4-6 finishing very close and the top 3 also finishing very close. My 200m races were a mixed bag as the heat was great the semi was terrible due to a hard side wind and the final was average. The accommodation made us feel like we were on holiday as it was all along the coastline so this was wonderful and we had beanbags in our hangers, which allowed for maximum comfort before preparing for a race or watching the events between races.
World cup 2 took place at a regular regatta venue in Germany. It showed truer European weather in May with a very chilly and windy day upon arrival but gradually got warmer over the competition days. The level of competition almost doubled in some events but grew progressively compared to Portugal; I had 3 heats in K1 500m at world cup 1 and 5 heats at world cup 2. It was good to race at this level that mimics the world champs. I decided to try a new race plan at this event which seemed to come together extremely well in my heat and semi-final, I have to say my semi-final race which was top 2 or fastest 3rd to progress was one of my best races for the year however I didn’t manage to mimic this in the final and finished 9th with a less than ideal race. I however managed to finish my 200m B-final with a better performance to get 2nd and 11th overall.
I have returned to South Africa with a lot of enthusiasm to get treatment for my mini injury and fix my movement in my boat so I can try get every race to feel like my semi-final in Germany. I know there are still many hours of training to improve my speed and race plan leading into the most important world champs of a 4-year cycle. The short-term goal is the finish top 8 at world champs in August in order to qualify for the Rio Olympics.
There is however a big local hype with the SA marathon champs taking place at my home training ground this weekend in Pietermaritsburg.
15-17 May 2015
World cup 1, Montemor-O-Velho, Portugal
K1 – 500m 6th overall
K1 -200m 5th in B-final 14th overall
22-24 May 2015
World cup 2, Duisberg, Germany
K1 – 500m 9th overall
K1 – 200m 2nd in B-final 11th overall
SA Marathon championships
Pietermaritzburg, Camps drift
SA selection trial for world championships