12 months ago Jordan Wood considered himself an outside chance, at best, of competing at this month’s Rio Olympics.
Now he is on the verge of competing in two events on debut, including as a team member of a boat which four years ago won a stunning gold medal in London.
“I do remember watching the K4 race, it was awesome and I was stoked for the guys,” Wood said.
“Looking back four years I wouldn’t have seen myself in the K4.
“Two years ago I didn’t really see myself as a big chance, but I gave it everything anyway. I always hoped I would be in a team boat, because that’s my favourite.”
Wood is now an important member of a very new-look K4 1000 boat that will be out to defend its gold medal in Rio.
Only Jacob Clear remains from London; joining Wood will be Beijing K1 500 gold medallist, and Australia’s most experienced paddler, Ken Wallace, and fellow young gun, Riley Fitzsimmons.
Wood and Fitzsimmons have form together. They won the K2 1000 gold at last year’s U23 world Championships, and since teaming up with Clear and Wallace, have helped the K4 crew to several podium finishes on this year’s World Cup circuit.
The crew won a gold and two silver medals against Olympic class opposition, to announce themselves as genuine podium contenders in Rio.
“2016 has been a great season so far, with all the results through World Cups and even domestically,” Wood said.
“It’s nice to see a reward for the hard work the team has put in as a whole.”
Wood will also race the K2 200 with fellow Olympic debutant, Daniel Bowker. It’s been a while since the 22-year-old from the Gold Coast has paddled K2 200.
But he has shown he is more than useful in the past, winning a silver medal in the K2 200 at the 2013 Youth Olympics festival.
He also has paddling pedigree on his side. His mother, Anna, is a two-time Olympian and bronze medallist in the K2 500 in Atlanta, his late father won bronze in the K4 in Barcelona, and his girlfriend, Alyce Burnett, will be making her Olympic debut in the K2 500.
“Yeah I have a lot of family history in the sport, which is pretty cool,” Wood said.
“But I want to make my own name for myself in the sport and paddle to the best of my ability.”
The men’s K2 will begin on August 17, while the heats of the K4 start on August 19.