It may be a new World Cup season, but Liam Heath and Jon Schofield are getting themselves ready for the real deal – the World Championships in August.
The Olympic K2 bronze medallists have been training alongside K1 champion Ed McKeever when they’re not training in warm weather conditions and the trio have been working on maximising their marginal gains – well aware they have no idea how their rivals are doing: “We know what times we are doing but we don’t know what times anyone else has done in the world,” revealed Heath. “So later this week everyone puts their cards on the table to see if their training has worked.”
Not knowing the status of the other teams heading to Szeged for 2013’s first World Cup event suits them fine: “We don’t really look at the start list or who is attending, we turn up and race,” confessed Heath. “I know what lane I’m in and what time I need to be there, which is all I need to know because nothing else is going to make a difference. Anything else distracts you from what you want to do which is to race as hard as you can.”
Whilst the tried and tested partnership of Heath/Schofield continues to soldier on, fellow Olympians Louisa Sawers and Angela Hannah are having to adjust to a new foursome. Such is the tight margin in canoe sprint that the pair, alongside Rachel Cawthorn and Jess Walker (who are both in Szeged in other boats), finished outside of the medals by less than 2 seconds. GB Canoeing have analysed the individuals’ data and believe the new team – with additions of Lani Belcher and Hayleigh Mason – can do big things. Mason won 2011 World Cup gold in this event whilst Belcher has also been part of the elite squad for five years.
Sawers is excited to see how things go but knows it’s a long road to Rio. “It’s exciting that it’s come around again and it’s nice to be going away and racing on a different course against the people that you have been lining up against for the past four or five years,” said Sawers. “Although this year is about seeing where we are and developing the K4 again, we have a plan for Rio and leading up to that, the aim being to make the podium continuously at World Cups through to 2014 and 2015.”