Fiona’s Rio big splash
Burgh canoeist to go for Olympic gold
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.