Athletes spend years preparing for an Olympic Games, so once the event is over, many of them can’t wait to put their feet up and smell the roses for a bit.
Australian sprint canoeist Alyce Burnett did just that; but the more than two months she spent off the water felt like an eternity, and she couldn’t wait to get going again.
“After 10 weeks out of the boat, I was ready to get back into it all,” Burnett said this week.
“I actually missed it. To be honest, life after the Olympics was a bit odd. I had surgery on my hand, started working full time and Jordan (fellow Olympian Jordan Wood) and I got a dog.
“Life almost did a complete flip.”
As if to make up for lost time, Burnett is back in action and doing a muscle-quivering full book of events at this weekend’s Canoeing Australia second Sprint Grand Prix at Penrith.
All of this despite the medical experts warning her she would take a while to get over her hand operation. Those experts obviously underestimated the determination of the Sunshine Coast 24-year-old.
“I had surgery early October on my hand, getting a Metacarpal Boss removed, which we thought might hold me back for a few months, but it’s been totally fine,” she said.
So while many of her Olympic teammates are still hibernating post-Rio, or easing themselves back into action gently, Burnett will take on seven events this weekend.
One gets the feeling is she could do more, she would.
“We started back training properly in November, and everything has gone back to what athletes see as normal,” she said.
“The early mornings hurt a lot, as did the long kilometres, but I love it and that’s why I do it.
“I think what I like most about being an athlete is being able to see just how far you can push your body, and after coming against the best in the business at the Olympics, I’m pretty ready to try and push myself even more.”
Burnett and her K2 500 partner, Alyssa Bull, were the revelations of the Australian Rio Olympic campaign.
Earmarked by most, including themselves, to make their debut at Tokyo in 2020, they shocked more seasoned performers to qualify for Rio, and then stepped up to another level on the world stage to make the K2 500 final.
It’s set the pair up for a big four-year campaign leading up to Tokyo.
“For me this year is about building on last year and putting down a good base for the next cycle,” Burnett said.
“Making that final at the Olympics was a massive goal ticked off for Bully and I and it made us hungrier. We’re wanting to improve on that result come the international season and help lead the girls into what will hopefully be a very successful four years.
“I’ve got a pretty good feeling about the group we’ve got coming through in the girls.”
Bull and Burnett are now almost joined at the hip, but this weekend they’ll have to race their signature event with different partners.
The K2 500 also doubles as a selection event for this year’s U23 World Championships, and with Burnett now sneaking over the age limit, it means Bull will partner another exciting Queenslander, Brianna Massie, while Burnett will pair up with WA’s Jaime Roberts.
But the duo will still have plenty of time together; they’ll race the K2 1000, the K2 200 and join together with Roberts and SA’s Cat McArthur to race the K4 500.
“Training so far has gone completely to plan,” Burnett said.
“For me, races like GP2 are all about getting on the start line, practicing my race plan and getting more race experience. No matter how hard you try, you are never able to replicate the feeling of racing in training.”
Grand Prix 2 will be held at the Sydney International Regatta Centre from Friday, February 3, until Sunday, February 5.