I have just returned from the Australian Surf life saving titles on the Gold Coast in Qld. With over 7000 competitors and 8 days of racing it certainly is a wonderful spectacle.
The Australian titles have close to 1000 ski paddlers in all age brackets, so you can see why we have such a proud history in the sport of sprint kayaking at the Olympics. I am of the view we could be even better with that many quality ski paddlers. When you race in the surf it's not like any other paddling as there are just so many variables, 16 other competitors, one starter standing watching to see that everyone gets a fair start, mother nature and of course you the athlete with all those built up nerves.
I had raced the Australian domestic season in Sydney this year 2014-15 and had paddled well, worked hard throughout the season and always looked for was to better myself, from new gym programs to correcting my technique and working on skills as much as possible. This all paided off when combined at the right time. The hard thing is as we improve we always look for ways to better ourselves and not often being happy with where we are at that now, I think this is why we are called competitors.
It was not and till I got the Australian Surf Titles that I had relised that there was no more time to work on my skills and I had to be the best I could be right there and then.
I was racing a good mate to keep the race within a race idea alive, this way if things do not goes as planned you still need to fight till the end to beat your mate.
I got to the final of the 40's single ski and as I went to the start line I thought about the text message a friend had just sent a few minutes earlier, go enjoy yourself.
I have no idea what this means, as I believe the start line to be one of the scariest places on earth, the pressure we put on ourselves to succeed and often to please others can make you sick, so go and enjoy this I am not sure I can. You stare at the start and finish line, talk yourself up about how many scarifies you have made and those who know you know how hard you have worked so they tell you, you will win this easy. That in it's self is enough to make you sick
So why in the hell would we go to the start line if this pressure makes us feel uncomfortable and nearly sick, because nothing is more satisfying then knowing that hard work pays off, that all the time spent was worth it, knowing that if you set yourself a goal you can achieve it and the fun once it's finished finding out where your friend finished.
Sport is one of the few things in life that is so important when you are in the moment yet so relaxing and joyful that it makes you back up and do it all again.
I think the start line will always be one of my scariest places to be but one thing I do know its the place that brings me the most happiness at the end.
Work hard be rewarded.