|Letters from Robin Bell
World Cup Races, 2006
© 2006 R. Bell
|> Paddlers' Stories Index|
Thursday, 8th June
Well, I am having deja vu after last year. I finished 2nd in Athens then 11th in the German World Cup the following weekend last year, likewise this year. I am just hoping that the rest of the year will follow last year's results!
I am not sure what happened in Augsburg, Germany. It was less than 10 degrees windy and wet, the same conditions we had all week in training. I was having trouble with my hands freezing up about halfway down, 60seconds into the run. I was on pace until this time then my forearms and hands turned to ice blocks. I just let the bottom of the course slide, loosing a second in each upstream gate. I tried desperately to hold the racing line, but could not get the boat into position with the loss of paddle control. It was frustrating paddling and then missing out on the top 10 final run for the second year in a row. I am not sure how, but every year Augsburg gets a World Cup, so I look forward to mix it in the medals here in Germany next year.
The other results for the Aussies were no better. Tony Estanguet of France also missed out on the final in C1. Without the two of us it left an opening for some young guys to step up and take the C1 medals.
On a brighter note, it has been 30 degrees here in Spain as I prepare for the 3rd and final World Cup in the series, feeling a lot more at home. The Barcelona Olympic course (Seu) is one of my favorite courses. I had my break through performance here in 1999 with my first international medal, ever since then I have had good results here. This course is very technical which suits me, while Augsburg lacks finesse and makes you fight the water most of the way down.
I picked up some new paddles and my new boat up in Germany. I will not be paddling these until next week, and will take some time between the training this week to customize the interior fit out in the new 'Loco'.
Friday, 2nd June
Thought I would do an update on some where's Robin trivia... I will try and send one of these emails out after each big race. Don't worry, there are only 4!
The Australian Canoe Team arrived in Athens on the 20th of May. It was great getting back to warmth again, after a couple of early morning freezing session on the water in Penrith. Athens was the start of the international racing season, the first of three world cups to be held over consecutive weekends. The next two take us to the Munich Olympic course in Germany and the Barcelona Olympic course in Spain.
I have a love/hate relationship with Athens. I was happy with my performance at the 2004 Olympics but missed out on the medals. This was quite devastating for me. I came back to Athens last year in 2005 for the World Cup with the Olympics still fresh in my mind and took some aggression out in the race to take the silver medal. I then took this aggression to the rest of the tour coming out with the overall World Cup Series title and gold at the World Championships.
This year has began in a similar fashion. Getting back to Athens last week brought back my Olympic horror again. This provided the extra kick that enabled me to take my racing up a gear. Never would have thought the memory would be so fresh in my mind from 2 years ago. I had the fastest raw time on the water including the kayaks, who are generally ~4% faster than the canoes. However I managed to pick up a gate touch (+2 seconds) on the first run and slotted into another silver medal, in one of the hardest fought canoe races yet. Even though I finished second this was a fantastic performance mentally and physically for me.
The other Aussies had a mixed bag of results. They all showed that they were capable of making the finals, however it was not to be. Kynan Maley has been battling injury this past year and showed some very stylish moves and will be back in the finals shortly. Matt Gabb the other C1 allowed nerves to take over on race day and I also expect him in the finals shortly. A good little canoe team.
Currently I am now in near Munich (Augsburg) getting ready for this weekends world cup. It is about 6 degrees and has been horizontally sleeting and hailing during our sessions. Coming from Perth I have experienced these really cold conditions only a couple of times, and never performed well at any of these events. So this weekend will bring some added challenges to the race for me. Being in doors this week has helped the study time for my Sydney Uni Economics and Finance subjects.
This weekend I will take into my possession my new race canoe, the 'Loco'. I designed the canoe with the help of Galasport and the AIS in March. I have been paddling an 11kg prototype and will get a slightly modified 8kg race version on Saturday. Looking forward to this!