Slalom canoeist Fiona Pennie won’t be giving up her European title without a fight in Vienna this week, insisting she is in better shape than she was 12 months ago.
The 31-year-old, who represented Team GB at the Beijing 2008 Olympics, took gold in the K1 canoe slalom at the European Championships in Krakow, Poland last year.
She leads an 18-strong British squad in Vienna this year with London 2012 Olympian Lizzie Neave and Beth Latham also selected in the women’s K1 event.
And, buoyed by last year’s gold, as well as some solid recent form on the water, Pennie believes she is in great shape for defending her crown.
“After the way I've been paddling lately, over the end of the winter and at the selection events, it's exciting to be going there this weekend defending my title,” she said.
“It’s the nature of canoe slalom that you’re not going to win every single race. You have to accept that it might not be your day but it would be great if it is my day.
“I’ve done it before, so why not do it again. I think I’m a better paddler than I was this time last year so it’s entirely within my capabilities.”
The action comes thick and fast for Great Britain’s canoeists with the Lee Valley White Water Centre – the canoeing venue for London 2012 – hosting the first World Cup of the season the weekend after the European Championships.
The course is the home to the British team and Pennie is confident of building on that advantage to secure further success.
“I can cope with the features a lot better now, I’m far more consistent doing the feature moves on the drops and the other more gnarly stoppers on Lee Valley,” she added.
“It takes a lot to know Lee Valley. There are lots of little things you need to know to compete on such big water over such a length of course.
“I’m definitely going in there with my head held high knowing I’m perfectly capable of winning that race.”
© Sportsbeat 2014