Two-time Olympian Naomi Flood gave one commitment after her K1 500 semi-final in Rio on Wednesday – she would not be setting foot in a boat for the next year.
30-year-old Flood said she felt exhausted and a little disappointed after finishing sixth in her semi.
“Always in the last couple of weeks leading into a big event you have those questions, could I have done something different, should I have done this,” Flood said.
“I think this is what spurs you on, but for me, I’m just exhausted. This is my 16th year as a full-time athlete, my elbows breaking down on me, I’ve got a few issues with the body that’s giving me the awareness that my time is done.
“The last 12 months have not been good. But that’s life. No-one as an athlete has a perfect run, you go through ups and downs. I’ve been lucky in my career that I’ve hardly had any injuries. It’s only been in the last two or three years that they’ve started to play up on me.”
Flood lined up in a the toughest heat of the morning, and squeezed into the semis as the fastest sixth competitor.
“You can’t do anything about the draw, that’s what it is,” she said.
“I was lucky to be the fastest sixth to make the semi. You look along the line, and you see World Championship medallists, you see Olympic medallists, they’ve all been paddling for six, seven, eight years, they’ve been to four Olympics.
“And I’m thinking, I’m from Australia, this is my second major regatta in K1, the first one was 2011. I left my run a little late, and I think where I came from this season I am happy to have turned it around.”
For now Flood is refusing to utter the R word, but admits she is leaning towards retirement. But also wary many athletes have made spur-of-the-moment decisions, only to regret them later, she’s going to take her time.
“I won’t be paddling next year, I can guarantee that, but beyond that I might pine to get back into a kayak,” she said.
“But I’m looking forward to the next chapter now.
“I’m stoked I made the transition from surf to kayak all those years ago, in hindsight I wish I had done it earlier. Sport is all I’ve known all my life, so I’m stoked with what I’ve done.”
Flood’s journey to Rio has been difficult. She needed to beat her K2 teammate, Jo Brigden-Jones, in a race-off in Europe to secure a spot, finally turning her fortunes around after a dreadful 12 months.
“I’ve had a good season for me, that’s all I could do out there today, I’m disappointed but it is what it is,” she said.
“At this stage it’s over, but never say never. This journey has been unreal, there’s been so many curve balls thrown at me but it’s been awesome.
“I really need to have a break for myself and figure out what I want to do.”