Australia’s gold-medal winning K4 crew will have it’s first serious test for 2014 when it races in the Canoe Sprint World Cup in the Czech Republic this weekend.
After taking most of 2013 off, the London Olympians have stepped up their program this year as they prepare to defend their 2012 K4 1000m gold medal.
“The crew is in far better shape than this time 4 years ago, and we will be trying to win Worlds,” crew member Tate Smith said from Racice.
“Our preparation this year will be aimed at this goal. This year does feel a lot different than last year. It's business as usual.
“We can give our total commitment to paddling and not have too many social events or appearances to attend.”
Smith, Murray Stewart, Jacob Clear and David Smith all took time away from paddling last year for various personal reasons.
They did so knowing exactly what’s required to win Olympic gold again.
“We do use our last preparation as a benchmark, because we believe that was set really high and to get to that level again is the big challenge,” Tate Smith said.
“The positive thing this time around, is there's no guessing or questioning what needs to be done, because we know what works.”
Despite limited preparation the K4 crew won bronze at last year’s World Championships, undone by their limited race and training time.
“Last years result was fantastic and again proved how consistent we are as a crew,” Smith said.
“This is what I've always driven from the start, so every time we race we're pushing hard for the win and medals.”
Stewart will also race the K1 1000 this weekend, along with Beijing K1 500 Olympic gold medalist Ken Wallace.
Wallace will also contest the K1 500, and try to repeat his gold medal-winning performance from the season’s first World Cup in the grueling K1 5000.
London Olympians Steve Bird and Jesse Phillips will have their first race of the International season, in the K2 200.
In the women’s draw Sydney paddlers Naomi Flood and Jo Brigden-Jones will team up in the K2 500, with Flood also contesting the K1 1000 and Brigden-Jones the K1 200.
Rounding out the field of Australian competitors this weekend will be Queensland’s Jordan Wood in the K1 500 and K1 5000, and New South Welshman Lachlan Tame and WA’s Brodie Holmes in the K1 200.
Please follow the links below for event information.