I chose to have an early start travelling down to the race course on the morning of my race final even though I wasn’t racing until 12:42. I was nervous and wanted to run a small training session on my own to help settle my nerves with enough time to get off the water and eat.
The weather was looking promising, the sun out and warming up in Račice (Czech Republic). When I was training on the water I went through my processes and did some short bits of speed work. This helped settle my body and mind, now I felt prepared for the afternoons start. After eating and doing my race warm up on the water I moved to the start area giving myself plenty of time in case of any changes to my start time.
At this point the wind had changed direction slightly into a slight crosswind along the 200m course. We were called into the start buckets all the time running my race process focusing down my lane at the finish point 200m away.
We were held in the buckets for an unusual amount of time. I just kept running my process unaware of what was happening in the lanes next to me, as some other athletes kept moving in and out of the start bucket. Eventually we were told to hold our position. You are under starter’s orders, READY, SET I heard a beep as the bucket dropped the race was on.
I planted the paddle deep pulling as hard I could to get the boat moving as quickly as possible. All the time running my process and racing my plan totally focused looking down my lane and unaware of any other boats around me at the time.
As I got closer to the stadium I was aware of the noise from the crowd, the drums, horns and shouting getting louder and louder as I approached the final 50 meters of the race. I ran the last part of my race process with all the power I could put down and crossed the finish line unaware of the beep as I crossed and continued with a couple more strokes just too be a 100 percent sure I was over the finish line.
I felt a feeling of relief when I crossed the finish line, then the realization that I had won as I was called to boat control, the race still going through my mind thinking what I could have done better, having to reminder myself I had won. You are the European champion I kept saying to myself as I paddled across to the landing stage where my coach was waiting to congratulate me. “You smashed it” he said, “you smashed it!!”