To start with, Saturday was a huge success for the Scottish Squad - it felt like virtually nobody went home without a prize! It was pretty amazing watching kids that I've coached come into their power, and race like they meant it. It was also pretty embarrassing to discover that I can no longer cruise down judges runs and get away with it - my ego took a sound beating when two of the girls that I coach got faster times than me! The junior British Championships was truly heartwarming, especially at the end of the day when the kids from CR Cats Canoe Club stood with their proud coach, Johnny Brown. He has a dedication to his athletes that makes me proud to race for the Scottish Performance Squad. The children he coaches will always be able to rely on his help and guidance, and I have no doubt whatsoever that in the Olympic games and world cups to come, he'll be right there on the bank giving them his support.
With Sunday came the premier race. I had it in my mind to start the second half of the season with a solid result, and I wasn't disappointed! I came in at second place, my best ever result in premier. I always feel powerful on Teesside, as the wide flat spaces between rapids give room to really open up and lay down some sprints - even if I did get a bit over excited and take it out on some poles on the way down! It felt so good to finally be racing again after a summer of hard training, and I was eager to get to Nottingham to race at the Paul McConkey Memorial race.
The Nottingham Premier was in championship format - that means on Saturday you get two chances to lay down a qualification run, and on Sunday there is a semi final run followed by a final. For women, only 7 paddlers get to qualify into the finals. After a very technical, punishing course on Saturday, I feel like myself and many other paddlers underestimated the technical aspect of the course set up on Sunday. I managed to qualify for the finals, with two touches - which should tell you something about the technicality of the upper section of the race! I came 6th overall in the premier race. It was hard not to be a bit disappointed with this result, because while it is up there with some of my best results in premier, I knew I had lost a substantial amount of time in the top section. I think I held it together much better than I would have done in the past - I put my head down and revved the engine! I remember hearing '...and she still has four seconds to make up!' coming from the commentary when I was in the last upstream gate, and managed to pull back two whole seconds on my lagging time. But overall it was an amazing race weekend, and I really enjoyed it as usual - possibly excepting the 3am arrival back home in time for a 10am lecture at uni!
The video below is a film made about the Junior British Championships at Teesside, I think it gives a beautiful depiction of what its like to be at a slalom race!