Having already achieved so much in the sport of sprint canoeing, Ken Wallace wants to do something on the water in Rio that will one day convince his two little boys that their dad was ‘once cool’.
He’ll get his first chance to do just that when he lines up alongside Lachlan Tame on Wednesday morning, Rio time, to compete in the first round of the K2 1000.
It’s an event which Wallace and Tame have made an enormous impact, winning silver medals at the last two World Championships.
But Wallace need not worry too much that his sons won’t believe their Dad was once famous.
A casual peruse of the record book prior to their birth will confirm their Dad was way cool long before Rio.
Winning an Olympic gold and bronze medal in Beijing was top notch cool; fronting up to a second Olympics in London and finishing fourth in the K2 1000 easily qualifies as cool.
So how to make yourself even cooler in Rio?
Double gold would do it, easily, but just being in the Australian team would be more than enough for most to tick the ‘cool’ box.
But Wallace, considered by teammates and opponents alike to be one of the toughest men in world paddling, has much higher goals than just appearing in a third Olympics.
If he and Olympic debutant, Tame, can fulfill the promise they’ve shown in the K2 1000, and if he can help pilot a new-look K4 1000 crew to defend the gold medal Australia won in London, he can rest assured it won’t just be his kids who will consider him the coolest!
“For me personally a lot has changed since London,” Wallace said.
“Getting married and having my two boys has put life in a different perspective. I have already won.
“My boys don’t care if I win or lose, I am their Dad and they love me either way. Although if I do win, maybe one day I can tell them that their Dad used to be cool.
“I am just so grateful that I can take them on this journey with me.”
As well as being tough, Wallace is also versatile. The K4 will be his fourth different discipline during his Olympic career, which kicked off with gold in the now non-existent K1 500 in Beijing.
And doing two events in Rio, compared to just the one in London, has meant a very different build-up.
“In Rio I will be sitting in the front seat of both the K2 and K4, so it means that I have a lot to do with the other team members in each boat,” he said.
“It also means that I am on a slightly different/specific training program than what I have been on in the past.”
Wallace might be older, but he’s also wiser. And he’s become much better at coping with the pressure of an Olympics.
In the lead-up to Beijing barely anyone knew the lifeguard from the Gold Coast. Gold put him into the lounge rooms of Australia, and there was no way he was going to sneak under the radar ahead of London.
Post 2012 most of the canoe sprint focus was on the triumphant K4 boys, but with silver medals with Tame at consecutive World Championships, Wallace is once again a poster boy for his sport.
And with lots of new faces in the 2016 squad, he’s the guiding hand.
“The key message is to keep their eyes on the prize and not get caught up with outside distractions,” Wallace said.
“Control the controllable. They are young, but have been in high pressure races before and handled them very well. They have all stepped up in training and taken everything in their stride.”
With all his experience, Wallace has no doubts how strong the Australian squad in Rio is. And it is high praise indeed.
“I believe it to be one of the strongest teams I have ever been in,” he said.
“Every team has their ups and downs but with this team, there seems to be a lot more ups.
“If we can execute the race that we know we can then I think there will be rewards in the end.”
Also racing on a busy Wednesday morning in Rio will be London Olympian, Naomi Flood, in the K1 500, Olympic debutants Jordan Wood and Daniel Bowker in the K2 200, and another Olympic debutant, Ferenc Szekszardi, in the C1 200.