Fiona’s Rio big splash

Burgh ca­noeist to go for Olympic gold

Lennox Herald - - THE BACK PAGE -

cham­pion slalom ca­noeist and will this week travel to Brazil to pre­pare for her sec­ond Olympic Games. The 33-year-old had a dis­ap­point­ing time when she last com­peted in Bei­jing in 2008, but Fiona is in fine form, hav­ing re­cently won the Euro­pean Cham­pi­onships. She is now aim­ing to take her achieve­ments in the white wa­ter sport to the top level by earn­ing a medal in Rio. Fiona told the Len­nox Her­ald: “I’m get­ting re­ally ex­cited about it all now and just picked up my kit re­cently. “My se­lec­tion for Team GB was last Oc­to­ber so this has been quite a long time in com­ing, but we’ve been over there quite a lot for train­ing camps and have got a good feel for the area now.

“I’ve been there five times now, in­clud­ing a test event in Novem­ber. Since March we’ve been there for two weeks every month and now know the place very well.

“White wa­ter is al­ways chang­ing so it’s good to prac­tice as much as pos­si­ble so I’m best pre­pared for what­ever course is set out on the day.

“There are a lot of big names rac­ing so you can’t take any­thing for granted, and this sport is so in­con­sis­tent due to the wa­ter con­di­tions so some­times the re­sults are re­ally supris­ing.

“It’s very, very hard to per­form good all the time.

“But ex­pe­ri­ence is key and I’ll do­ing ev­ery­thing I can to medal.”

Fiona was born in Alexan­dria and lived in He­lens­burgh till the age of four be­fore her par­ents moved to Cri­eff, where they both still live.

The ath­lete learned to pad­dle a kayak at the age of five and be­gan com­pet­ing in slalom ca­noe events four years later.

She has now been com­pet­ing for 24 years and is Bri­tain’s best.

Ca­noe slalom in­volves go­ing from the gates of a white wa­ter course and pad­dling through a 300m course, ma­neou­vring through 25 gates in the cor­rect or­der as quickly as pos­si­ble.

The ca­noeist re­ceives a two sec­ond penalty if they hit the gates and a 50 sec­ond pun­ish­ment if they miss go­ing through any of them.

The lat­ter cost Fiona dear at the 2008 Olympic Games in the first of two runs.

She ex­plained: “Back in those days the rules were dif­fer­ent and the times from our two qual­i­fy­ing runs were added to­gether.

“In my first one I missed a gate and it cost me a 50 sec­ond penalty, which ba­si­cally puts you out of the game.

“Go­ing into my sec­ond run I got the fifth fastest time for the day - but it wasn’t enough to progress.”

The Rio Olympics run from Au­gust 5-21, with the ca­noe slalom qual­i­fy­ing and fi­nal events run­ning from Au­gust 7-11.

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