There was no-one more shocked about the Olympic performance of Steve Bird in the K1 200 on Friday than Steve Bird himself.
Bird chose the Olympics to hit the best form of his life, breaking his own personal best time in finishing second in his heat, and then lowering the best time again in winning his semi-final.
“I’ve exceeded my expectations already,” Bird said.
“I was hoping to win my way out of the heat, to be honest. I looked at the heat line-up, and I thought jeepers, you’re going to have to have your best race ever to get out of this heat, considering the pedigree.
“It just goes to show at the Olympics, there’s a lot of nerves going around.”
And after a European season where Bird’s main goal was to make A finals, he now has to consider himself a chance of an Olympic medal.
“Absolutely,” he said. “It does wonders for your belief system, especially coming from an underdog position. It’s my first ever A final.
“I’ll sleep excited tonight. Last night I slept nervous, tonight I’ll sleep excited – I can’t sleep either way.”
Bird said he was chuffed the conditions were rough. The way he saw it, anything to ‘put the cat amongst the pigeons’, and the cat was certainly among the pigeons.
“I just felt so calm,” Bird said.
“I got some good strokes in in very bumpy water. I guess the back end of the race has been a weakness in the past.”
Steve Bird will paddle for gold in the K1 200 at 10:07pm, AEST.