Last weekend was the first race of the season over here at the National Water Sports Centre in Nottingham. As usual the day before the race the sun was out and the water calm but during the regatta everyone had to battle strong headwinds with some brutal gusts creating havoc.
I raced in two kayak races on Saturday. These were selection races for our paracanoe squad, with European Championship or World Cup spots up for grabs. This was also my first race in a new classification, following the introduction of a new classification system I have moved from the old TA (medium damage!) to the new KL3 (least damaged!) (that was how paracanoe classes were described online somewhere which I thought was quite funny and pretty accurate!). On top of that I was racing in my new discipline of Kayak rather than Va’a (This is the paracanoe with the outrigger). In September I made the decision to start kayaking as I had predicted I may be reclassified, subsequently the Va’a discipline has been dropped from the Rio games which I believe is a great shame as it is such an exciting event, but it did justify my decision from September!
The races were both hard work and I feel I have a lot left to develop in the kayak as it certainly highlighted weaknesses in my paddling but I was pleased that I was able to put in a good enough performance to gain a world cup spot, after finishing 3rd with in the GB squad and forth overall in both races. I will be racing one round of the world cup in Duisburg, Germany at the end of May. I then have until July to move up one spot in the British rankings to get a World Championship selection, so there will be a summer of hard work ahead of me.
With the Va’a races being on the Sunday I decided not to race, as I know my focus needs to be on kayaking at the world cup. Even winning the race I wouldn’t have gone to the Euros as they are just before the world cup and I must prioritise the kayak. This was a difficult decision. I enjoy the Va’a, and performance wise feel I could still be stronger in that boat but if I want to go to a paralympic games I need to make sacrifices and to stick to my commitments and hopefully I will be able to look back in 2016 and know I fully committed to the cause!
Thank you for the support from CANI and British Canoeing, along with UK Sport Lottery funding which allows me to train full! If you’d like to know more you can find me on twitter @jonny_paracanoe.
Also: to read more about Jonny’s incredible journey have a read through the past news stories on our site here.