It is no understatement to suggest the Para canoe clash between Australia’s Amanda Reynolds and Great Britain’s Anne Dickens will be one of the highlights of the Rio Paralympics.
There is already considerable excitement surround Para canoe making its Paralympics debut, and that excitement will reach fever pitch when Reynolds and Dickens go head-to-head in the women’s KL3 200.
Reynolds pipped Dickens by 0:02 seconds at the 2015 World Championships, but then Dickens turned the tables in 2016, with the margin once again miniscule.
Reynolds, or ‘AJ’ as she is affectionately known, has been in Europe with her Paralympic teammates preparing for the big event, and admits even thinking about Rio makes her stomach flutter.
“My preparation is going well, a couple of little hiccups which I’m learning is to be character building and makes me work harder,” Reynolds said this week.
“I guess if it was easy where would be the fun in that. Now we are in the last couple of weeks, I’ll just keep my focus and live in the moment.
“Ohhh and spread the awesomeness and hugs!”
Reynolds has been stepping up the training in Italy, with occasional breaks to take a sneak peek at what was unfolding in Rio last month – which didn’t help her nerves.
“I watched as much of the Olympics as I could between my training sessions,” she said.
“My tummy definitely gets butterflies and there is also an element of excitement and fear, that we are going to be there and competing on the same water as the guys I look up to and that inspire me.”
And as for the pressure of being a medal favourite, and the likely showdown with Anne Dickens?
“I know there is the pressure,” she said.
“I don’t really think about it, we are all fighting for that number one so I will do what I do and give it my all and do my country proud.”
The Rio Paralympics begin on September 7, with the Para canoe competition running between September 14-16.