Canoe Sprint / Featured / Jul 25, 2016

When the time comes for letting their hair down in the Olympic village, it’s a fair bet there’ll be two Australian girls leading the world’s best athletes in some impromptu karaoke.

Australia’s AB’s, Alyce Burnett and Alyssa Bull, will be looking to make a name for themselves in the K2 500 sprint canoe event in Rio.

But they’ll also take whatever opportunities they get to indulge their other passion – crooning, rapping – you name it!

“Being quiet certainly isn’t one of our strong points,” Burnett said.

“Something that helps us switch off is a good old fashioned sing-a-long in the car. Rap songs, RnB, old school, hip hop…we can sing it all!”

It’s the laid back attitude which has thrust the two Queenslanders into an Olympic Games four years ahead of schedule, and as a couple of other great crooners, Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett, once sang – “The best is yet to come”.

“2016 has been a complete whirlwind for me,” Burnett said.

“Gaining selection on to the Olympic team with Alyssa was obviously the goal, but with only three spots up for grabs I was trying to be realistic as well.

But since qualifying, the last few months have been absolutely hectic and I’ve loved every minute of it!”

To get to Rio Burnett and Bull had to first get past the formidable Olympians, Naomi Flood and Jo Brigden Jones, who had the advantage of big race experience together, as well as a lot more time training together.

When they upstaged the Olympians in the first selection race, a few took notice but most expected the status quo would soon return.

But in race two, in choppy Perth conditions, the young Queenslanders put even more distance between themselves and Flood and Brigden-Jones.

Their ticket to Rio was guaranteed, the Qantas boarding pass was being prepared, and the inevitable raucous sing-a-long continued long after the last boat was packed in the shed.

In reality they both thought Tokyo would be more likely. Burnett will turn 24 in Rio, while Bull is only 20.

But after two almost ‘flawless’ (Beyonce, 2013 – sure to be on high rotation in the Bull-Burnett bunker in Rio) races, they brought their dreams forward.

“Over the last few years Rio has obviously been the major goal, but after the girls squad only qualified three spots the odds were stacked against us,” Burnett said.

“Coming into this season Alyssa and I did everything we could to make sure we put our best race forward, but tried to ensure we had a life outside of sport as well in case we didn’t quite get there.”

Burnett is eying off a career in media, while Bull is heading off to University next year. Talking to both girls you get the sense that, despite the whirlwind ride off the past six months, their feet are still well and truly grounded.

“Training has been much the same since qualifying for Rio and for us I don’t think the pressure has changed much,” Burnett said.

“We’ve always been the types to push ourselves no matter what’s at stake, whether it’s a National Championships or an Olympic Games, so the last few months have been no different.”

By the time the women’s K2 500 has been run and won Burnett and Bull will barely have the energy to blow out a candle.

Until the DJ cranks up, of course. And then it will be every crooner for themselves!