Europeans mark start of another Olympic adventure for Clarke
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Europeans mark start of another Olympic adventure for Clarke

02 June 2017 / 06:23
Olympic champion Joe Clarke is back in his boat and paddling towards Tokyo.
JoeClarkeICFWorldsClarke enjoyed the parties and parades that came with his victory in the K1 canoe slalom in Rio but insists there is no lack of motivation after achieving his career ambition aged just 23.

And he's been inspired by Olympic legend Sir Steve Redgrave, who didn't stop at one gold medal but went on to top the podium at five consecutive Olympics over two decades.

"Redgrave was a massive idol of mine growing up and I'm trying to do the same as him," said Clarke. "Five is probably out of my reach but two or three is right out there.

"After Rio I sat down with my coach and we talked about what is next and whether I wanted four more years of hard work. Straight away the motivation was right there, the Olympics are something else and I always wanted to get that feeling again. 

"I'm addicted to the sport and I'm a very competitive person. I'm always looking ahead, especially as no-one has ever defended their Olympic title in my event."

Clarke will be looking to add the European title to his resume in Slovenia this weekend, having won double team silver in the event in 2014 and 2015.

But he admits he's worried about the target painted on his back - with a crop of rising British talent among his rival, let alone the best on the continent.

"I'm just looking forward to getting back out there competing again," he added.

"I gave myself to January to enjoy everything that came with winning the Olympics and to capitalise on it and help raise the profile of our sport. 

"I don't put pressure on myself for the season ahead but I'm in really good shape. I know there's a target on me but I feel less pressure because I know I've achieved that Olympic gold medal. I've ticked off the biggest thing and everything else is a bonus now.

"I'm trying new things this season because now is the time to work on that. I could have mixed success as a result, who knows?

"We've got such a hungry team, some of the younger guys really want that success after seeing what happened to me last year. Success breeds success but I've got a big target on my back domestically. 

"People want to knock me off the top step and take their turn. It's a big motivation to beat the Olympic champion and the standard is this country is just getting higher and higher. If I don't focus on my training someone is going to come along and take my place on the team."

Sportsbeat 2017

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