Well that went quickly. I learned a lot about myself during selection. That actually, my mental attitude isn't bad at all. That, at the end of the day, I do canoeing because I love it. That its probably one of the most disappointing things in the world, when it finally sinks in that you've trained for 12 months, as hard as you can, for it not to go quite right on the weekend when it really counts. Penalties, big mistakes, and 'nearly' - kept me awake all night once the race was over. Nearly isn't good enough - not when so many people are so good, and when racing becomes as tight as it was at London. Its hard to take in, when you were so ready to do awesome, that really it didn't go as planned. Don't get me wrong, I felt good - my paddling style was the best its ever been, and the majority of each run was my best. Just on each run I seemed to consistently make one big, devastating mistake, be it a penalty or a missed stroke. A lot of people said 'hard luck' to me at the time. And at the time it made me feel a lot better, because it kind of confirmed that I was expected to do better, that people weren't accepting this as 'me'. But now, the race is done, my break is almost over, and all I want to do is reduce the percentage chance of that 'luck', and make good runs unquestionable, unavoidable.
A lot of decisions face Scottish canoeists at this time. For me, I need to consider the factors that can make me better, and the ones that could impede me on my way to being the best. To start with, I'm going to spend as much time racing and training abroad as possible this summer. Entries are already sent to races in Italy and Bratislava, and a plan is beginning to take shape. But the people around me are just as pivotal to training as the camps themselves, and this is where the issues are going to be for the next few months. The future is most definitely uncertain, except for one factor - the amount of time, effort and hard work I am willing to commit. It is indefinite, and no amount of disappointment or political uncertainty can devalue slalom for me. For me, it is worth it, and every bad race I have had can only make me better. And every good race is a simple testament to the idea that eventually, hard work DOES pay off.
A lot of my teammates and friends did amazing at the weekend, and I am so proud - I train with these people almost every single day, and seeing someone else's goals being reached makes me even more determined to reach mine. The next year is going to be tough, because I'm going to make it tough. I love my sport, and I love everything it gives back. I had my last talk with Blairgowrie High School today, and the emphasis was on 'winning attitudes.' The talk was specifically to emphasise the importance of hard work and effort. It also discussed 'scoreboard winning' versus personal winning/gains. For me, I want my races to reflect how I feel I paddle in training, and the only way to get better about this is to spend more time in my boat
Amber Maslen is 25 years old, and been racing canoe slalom since she was 15. Currently on the Scottish Performance Squad.