There’s a little hill the Australian team bus goes over every time it enters the Olympic canoe slalom course in Rio, and every time, without fail, it makes the hair stand up on the back of the neck of C1 paddler, Ian Borrows.
As soon as they hit the top of the hill, the magnitude of the slalom course and the grandstands hits home to the 26-year-old Olympic debutant, who will be the first Australian paddler on the water when the heats of the C1 begin on Sunday.
It can be a bit overwhelming, especially for a first-timer, but those who know Borrows well, also know he’s not the type to panic.
“I don’t think I have been too distracted by everything,” he said this week.
“Just being slowly looking at everything and taking it in. That’s also why we came out early, to get use to how everything is working and to have a lot of time to look at everything.”
The slalom team was one of the first to arrive in the Olympic village, having been ensconced in Europe for several months before then.
For Borrows, who grew up just down the road from the Penrith Whitewater Stadium, it’s been an enjoyable build-up.
“The few days in Rio has been amazing, I managed to catch up with my family for a day which was really nice,” he said.
“The village is awesome, the Australian house is starting to fill up now, and so it is pretty cool to see so many amazing Australian athletes.”
It’s been a solid 12 months for Borrows, who went from missing selection in the Australian World Championship team in 2015, to finishing on top of a hotly contested selection process for Rio.
Which makes it perfectly understandable that the view he takes in on his way to training at the Deodoro Stadium is quite breathtaking.
“I get goosebumps every time we drive in on the bus to the course,” he said.
“We go over a hill on the way into the course and you can see everything, it’s so cool. And I keep trying to imagine what it’s going to be like with the stands all full on competition day, but I don’t think I will even come close
“Once those stands get full and we start racing for real it’s going to be amazing. I can’t wait.”
Borrows will begin his Olympic campaign at approx. 1:30 am Monday morning, AEST.