Leading up to the Cardiff World Cup race I had been making sure I was getting the time I needed to train on white water. The issue with Cardiff is that they don’t release the water on the level for racing regularly, so it was unrealistic for me to train there prior to the race. Which is why I decided to base myself at HPP in the lead up to the race.

I was very kindly brought over to Cardiff for the official training and race by Aisling a fellow Irish paddler. The journey was a laugh made even better with a couple of Kiskpy Cremes. We arrived at Cardiff late that night, the day before official training began.

Cardiff is the closest World Cup venue to me. This was going to be my first ever international race, not to mention it was at a senior level. This obviously made me feel under some pressure. I have to say it was very surreal as I was on the water with the likes of Peter Kauzer and Vavra Hradilk. This definitely took a while to sink in and I was very hesitant at first, but I settled in after a couple of sessions.

In training I was being very clumsy just adjusting to the water and getting to grips with it. On top of all of this I was very grateful for coaching provided by Dan Godard.

cardiff-canoe-slalom-world-cup

Some of the Irish paddlers decided to share an apartment together, and we were lucky as it was such a good choice. We were located a 5 minute walk from the white water course and about 3 minutes from the supermarket. This was very handy as it meant we didn’t have to travel much, we also had the added bonus that the apartment we rented was very modern and up to date.

On the Wednesday night the whole Irish team went out for a meal. We went to Gourmet Burger Kitchen, which just so happens to be one of my favourite places to eat out. It was great for me as I hadn’t properly met all the senior team members and this way was pretty relaxed and chilled out. After we had our meal Hannah Craig had organized a social night out, this was literally 10 yards away from the restaurant and all of the paddlers competing were invited. Again the feeling of, wow I’m around all of these top paddlers, kicked in again. They were all really nice, down to earth people and made the night a really great experience.

Unfortunately I had a little set back on the Wednesday session as I got a hole in my boat. This was a real shame and it was at the beginning of the session so I had to get it repaired, missing out on a training slot but it was worth it. The company that repaired it did a great job and got it back to me by my last session before the racing began.

Hole in my canoe slalom boat

I also picked up my new team Ireland cag deck, which helped me look the part. Thanks to every body who helped make it happen and to Eoin Rheinisch for bring it over for me.

One thing that became apparent to me is that you have a lot of time to kill when you aren’t paddling. I tried not to just sit around doing nothing as it meant I started to think about the up coming race. So on a couple of occasions we went out to see some films this definitely took the edge off things. The people who know me well know that I love my movies.

My first run was very strange, as I didn’t feel any nerves. I’m not quite sure why this is, possibly because I wasn’t expecting anything from this race. It meant that there was nothing holding me back and I did some really great paddling. Stranger still I had come up the conveyor belt not knowing what to do, fortunately I knew the person on start who helped me and everything was fine. It wasn’t the best way to start a race as usually it would have made me more nervous, but it didn’t seem to faze me.

My second run was overall a much better run there were a lot of positives but the was one major mistake, my tail hit one of the plastic configuration blocks and made me spin out, this cost me around 8 seconds which wasn’t good but with my time overall only being 2 seconds slower than my first run this mean I was on for putting in a good competitive time for my first race. I’m not too disheartened by this, as there is a lot to take away. Knowing I have the ability to perform to the standard I did is great I just have to repeat this in other races. I think most of it was down to my mind set if I can replicate this I should be on for some good results.

This year they decided to phase in team runs for the World Cup series. Unfortunately not everyone knew this before the event so they had already booked their flights for the next World Cup race in Augsburg. So this meant I wasn’t able to do a team run, it didn’t bother me too much as I had already had a great time, for my first experience of international racing. I was happy I had done some good racing and it was great to see where I am compared to other top athletes.