Eat, sleep, canoe, repeat for Franklin

Every day she's paddlin' - and Mallory Franklin, it seems, wouldn't have it any other way.

The former canoe slalom world champion confesses to being 'a bit shy' but she's certainly ready for the full glare of the Olympics.

The 25-year-old admits to being obsessed by her sport, a love affair that started with a day by the River Thomas two decades ago watching her older brother Zak.

Team-mate Adam Burgess uses yoga to unwind from the strain of competitive sport while Kimberley Woods previously enjoyed a rough and tumble game of American football, until an injury forced her to find a less dangerous way to decompress.

But Franklin thinks 'there's nothing so nice, as messin' about on the river'.

"I use canoeing to relax because it's my way of releasing from the pressures of life, it is my off switch from the real world," she said.

"I canoe, eat, sleep and probably watch a bit too much TV - but I love what I do, even if that sounds a bit boring.

"I love being on the water, the idea of doing something else is a bit scary, I always need to be paddling and I can't imagine ever stopping.

"My fiancé is a canoeist and we've been together since we were 14, canoeing is my life, it's at home and work."

The four-time world champion watched the last Games from home despite ending the season ranked world number one in canoe slalom's C1 category.

But Tokyo has seen organisers secure gender parity to the programme, with the women's C1 replacing the men's C2, an event in which Britain won gold and silver at London 2012 and silver four years ago in Rio.

"As a sport it shows we are pushing at the forefront of gender parity - it's good to see two girls and two boys on the team and that's how it should be," she added.

Franklin then could be a trailblazer, though don't expect her to embrace the label.

She loves the pressure of competition but is certainly more comfortable in the boat than out of it.

"I'm confident on the water but probably a bit too shy off it," she admits. "I'm getting more used to the attention but it always seems surreal, sometimes the thought of standing there as Olympic champion terrifies me, being the focus of all the attention.

"I didn't used to tell my school a huge amount and I used to consciously not update them, so they didn't embarrass me in assemblies.

"I've never been the type of person to walk into a place and say 'look how amazing I am'. It was usually my mum who did all that! "I'm a pretty secluded sort of person, I'm not sure I want everyone to know who I am."

Franklin will be joined in Tokyo by team-mate Woods, who will compete in the K1 class.

Both paddlers have been attempting to qualify in both canoe and kayak events, which the former world champion admits has been difficult.

"We compete against each other and that's created some friction and it's tough to keep pushing a happy and healthy relationship when there's so much at stake and you are both chasing the same thing," she said.

"Now we've both been selected we can compete together rather than against each other and it will be great to have her there for support."

Sportsbeat 2019