Canoeists hope home advantage will tell
July 19, 2012 19:03 pm
Great Britain's slalom canoeists hope to take full advantage of competing on home waters even if that includes the intemperate weather conditions, one of the team's medal hopefuls has said.
The canoe slalom competition starts in 10 days at the Lee Valley White Water Centre in Broxbourne, where the British athletes have been training for the last 18 months in a bid for Olympic glory. The £35million purpose-built course is regarded as arduous with no let-ups for the canoeists as they push to make it over the finish line in under 90 seconds.
Etienne Stott said: "The only thing I'd change at the moment is the weather. We all want it to cheer up because it has been pretty miserable so far. Some of the foreign athletes may be used to training and competing in the sunshine, which we like, but we're also used to training in bad conditions."
Thousands are expected to line the banks of the course to support Team GB and Stott, who is competing in the two-man C-2 class with Tim Baillie, believes the team's biggest advantage could be Britain's poor summer which has seen rain and high winds out on the course.
He added: "We were here when it was minus eight degrees over the winter which wasn't too much fun."
Canoe slalom is notoriously unpredictable. An unexpected wave or misjudged gate can bring a medal-winning run to a grinding halt but the British team remain hopeful of making it on to the podium once the event gets under way on July 29.
In previous years, the competition has been dominated by the Germans in the single kayak, while the Slovakian brothers Pavol and Peter Hochschorner have out-muscled the opposition to claim gold in the two-man canoe in the last three Olympics.
British success in recent years has been limited to Campbell Walsh, who claimed silver in the single kayak in 2004 but just missed out on place in the team this year, and David Florence, who claimed silver in Beijing in the single canoe.
Florence, who is also competing in the two-man event with Richard Hounslow this year, hopes the home crowd will prove a significant advantage. "I don't quite know what the noise will be like but I hope it will be pretty rowdy," he said.
Britain's only woman in the canoe slalom Lizzie Neave believes a medal haul is definitely a possibility. She said: "I think the fact we have been training here at the competition venue is definitely going to be beneficial for me personally, and the things I've learnt will be useful come race day."
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