The Chronicle



IT SOUNDS like heaven but for para canoeist Dylan Littlehale­s, sitting in a spa for an hour repeatedly was sheer hell.

Athletes adopted all sorts of measures to prepare for the searing temperatur­es at the Tokyo Paralympic­s – from heat chambers at the NSWIS to DIY heat rooms in bathrooms.

Littlehale­s just jumped into a spa. But the Paralympic­s kayaker from the Central Coast, who relocated to the Northern Beaches for training, said it wasn’t at all relaxing.

“It’s not as good as it sounds,” said Littlehale­s, who races his K1 on Friday in Tokyo.

“It’s passive heat adaptation. It’s 40C so you sweat constantly.

“I find it harder than a chamber. It’s nice for four or five minuets then it sucks.”

Littlehale­s competed at his first Olympic Games in Rio and placed sixth in his semifinal.

But at the 2019 para canoe world titles the Avoca kayak club paddler – home to Olympians Lachie Tame and Riley Fitzsimmon­s – showed he could feature in the medals in Tokyo with a fourth placing.

The paddler, born with a right limb deficiency, said the performanc­e of the Olympic kayak team in Tokyo had been inspiring.

The K2 pairing of Tom Green and Jean van der Westhuyzen won gold on debut in the K2 class in one of the big shocks of the competitio­n in Tokyo.

“The Olympic guys give me faith it can be done,’’ said Littlehale­s, who has largely trained without major racing at the NSWIS training centre at Narrabeen Lakes due to the coronaviru­s lockdowns in Sydney.

“The goal is to get the gold medal but I’ll have to beat the Ukrainian (Serhii Yemelianov) to do that,’’ he said.

“I am only 21, I’m still getting quicker. We will just have to see how it goes.’’

Littlehale­s knows Yemelianov looms as his biggest hurdle to gold.

The NSW athlete, who is studying sport psychology at Newcastle University, said his long-term goal in the sport was to represent Australia when the Olympics come to Brisbane in 2032.

“What a great way to end things, at a home Games,’’ he said.

 ??  ?? Dylan Littlehale­s.
Dylan Littlehale­s.

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