I think the period between selection and the summer is dreaded a little by canoeists. Certainly I have found it tough this year, and I know others feel the same. Part of you is wildly supportive of the strong team put forward to race at the Worlds in Australia, and the other part is...well, a bit empty. There is kind of an intense high for training immediately after selection, where all you want to do is train as hard as you possibly can for next year. And then you realise you are just a bit tired, and maybe it really is okay to rest for a few days.
Having said that, it was really great getting back into strength and conditioning, and starting to feel strong again. There is something incredibly satisfying about methodical, numerical training. It is now two weeks since selection, and finally, I'm starting to feel the burn again. Myself and my teammate are organising ourselves, and a long, amazing summer of racing in Europe is starting to take shape. Paddlers can expect to see us racing the Danubia Cup in Bratislava, and the ICF International in Ivrea, Italy.
As I said in my previous post, some difficult decisions are facing Scottish Canoeists at this time. But if any of them are looking for guidance, as I have been for the last two weeks, I can only offer this; remember it is YOU who makes yourself, nobody else. It is your hard work, your effort, your sacrifices that make you you. And that comes with a bonus- nobody can take you away from yourself. You are the athlete you want to be, and if you want it enough, it will happen. It might take ages. I know I am going to have the lowest lows and the highest highs before I achieve what I want. But thats okay, because I will work for as long as and as hard as it takes to get there. Coaches, physios, psychology support and the like are all an important part of it, and they may have a lot of influence on the shape of your progression. But at the end of the day, its your sport, and your love. You can never ask anyone else to do it for you, as much as nobody else should ever try and make it about them.
Personally, I would say that my parents have been the strongest source of guidance for me. Not many other people see you at both your best and your worst, or share your highs and your lows. I know that loads of canoeists would agree with me, and it happens that sometimes, the children get the opportunity to give back something. Even if that something is as small as being there. Being there for someone you love most, while they fight one of the most important battles of their life. It throws our sport into perspective, when a teammate, and someone you care about, has to be there for their mum while she tries to be even more strong than she already is. Which is seriously tough. At the end of our day, we do our sport because we love it, and I know I speak at least for my mum when I say that she loves that I love it. So coming out the other side of the last two bleak weeks, I can say I can't wait for the summer, and all the racing it will bring. That I love my sport, and my parents, for making it worth it. And that I know when it comes to it, my favourite people are going to be as strong as I know they can be.
Amber Maslen is 25 years old, and been racing canoe slalom since she was 15. Currently on the Scottish Performance Squad.