Fit Stewart ready to show his best

Featured / General / Aug 13, 2016

Murray Stewart has waited four years to have a decent crack at the Olympic K1 1000 title, and now the time has come.

And four years after illness derailed his last K1 1000 Olympic challenge, he has been determined not to let illness once again thwart his chances.

He was ready to show the world his best in London, until falling sick during his Olympic campaign and having to settle for 16th.

But any disappointment from that result was easily offset by winning gold as part of the K4 1000 boat.

In Rio 30-year-old Stewart will be concentrating on just the K1 event, and if his form during this Olympic cycle is anything to go by, he’s ready to give the podium an enormous shake.

If he does triumph in Brazil this week, he will have overcome much more than just his paddling opponents.

Just over six months ago, Stewart suddenly went from bouncing out of bed every morning and thrashing out kilometre after kilometre of super intense training, to suddenly struggling to lift his head off his pillow, let alone put in the training required to prepare him for a second Olympic Games.

“I had glandular fever not long after our domestic trials, so obviously I got on the team after having quite a good domestic season, but then had a rough five or six weeks of battling through that,” Stewart said in Rio this week.

“But it is what it is, I’m back to full fitness now and hopefully I’ll prove that next week.”

Stewart finished sixth in the K1 1000 at last year’s World Championships, to announce himself as a genuine medal contender in Rio.

He’s also dominated the 1000 metre event domestically, losing just one race since the London Olympics.

Even though he won’t be part of the crew defending the K4 gold medal, he has worked hard to maintain a ‘team’ atmosphere around his preparation.

“I’ve been the K1 for the last two years at a World Championship level,” he said.

“When you’re in a team boat you definitely have a bit more of that team mentality, but I’ve had such a strong support crew around me, with my coach and the various support staff that has helped me along the way.

“I feel like it’s been a team effort, so I think lining up it will feel very similar to what I’m used to, but at the same time a very different experience to London.”

Stewart is also expecting some challenging racing conditions.

“It’s quite a dramatic course, with the mountains and everything surrounding it, but it’s nice to get down into the water,” he said.

“It’s been a little bit bumpy for the past few days, but any time you are racing on an open bit of water and not a man-made course, it tends to have the ability to chop up a bit.

“But we’ve been training for it.”

Stewart’s K1 campaign will kick off Monday night, Australian time.