The best news of my 2015-year arrived two weeks after I raced my sprint world championships in Milan. I qualified a spot for the RIO Olympics 2016!!
I flew out of South Africa on 28th of July knowing I had a big task ahead of me towards the end of my tour but it started with the enjoyable company of Andy Birkett and Greg Louw as we travelled to Brandenburg, Germany to take part in a marathon world cup (the venue for the 2016 marathon world champs). I had been slightly ill before leaving so I was really looking forward to getting my health back and to have a small competition to wake up my body as well as my nervous system.
We all had a great week of training and getting looked after in German style. I was rather nervous for the short course event, as I have never done this type of racing before with only two portages and not much room for error. I really enjoyed this event, it was very tough and the pace did not slow down which made the race very exciting. I really had so much fun cheering for Andy and Greg in short and long course events as well as mingling with a few people from other countries, especially Tommy Kersten who had many stories from when he visited and lived in South Africa.
After the World cup I said good-bye to the boys as they jetted to Spain and I went to Portugal for a training camp with a friend of mine Hayleigh Mason from Great Britain. We were blessed with great weather at the Nelo training centre and I was able to train in my new Nelo Cinco boat! The training camp flew by so fast and before I new it I was on a flight to Milan to meet the rest of Team South Africa!
The Sprint world championships is always the toughest of the four year cycle with everyone in top shape trying to qualify as many spots as they can for their country. Its always such a serious event and brings the biggest amount of nerves even to the most experienced paddlers. I never felt very comfortable on the course before the event as the bumpy conditions with many boats on the water never allowed anyone to have calm water. Racing started on the Thursday and this was it the big event of the year! I started my heat quite well with a good feeling towards the end of my race, the semi-final would always be tough on the same day in the afternoon. I also felt like I never stuck to my race plan and got stressed off the start which caused me to cramp up and struggle in the middle part, I recovered a little but it wasn’t enough and put me in a repeat B-final of the previous 4 year cycle. The hope of winning the B-final was my last chance to qualify. I tried to forget about this pressure and decided if my race plan was good enough then I would win and if it wasn’t on the day I wouldn’t. I was racing in the outside lane which allowed me to stick to my plan and finish very strong giving me first place and 10th overall!! What a relief as I had done all I could at that stage now it was the terribly long wait to get confirmation fro ICF. Had I done enough to qualify a spot or not? Luck was on my side as 4 of the speedy girls in the A-final where also in K4 boats for their country and qualified boat places so the count back of top 8 K1 boats went until 2nd place in B-final.
I have a big year ahead training towards RIO, which I am extremely excited about and ready to put in many more hours of good training.