CRNZ Coach and three-time Olympic medallist Tim Brabants serves up the first of his Olympic blog articles.
Yesterday I arrived in Komatsu on the west coast of Japan for the start of the final training preparations for the NZ kayak team before the Olympics commence. Currently just Max and Kurtis are here, with the women’s squad arriving tomorrow from their training preparation camp in Australia.
This will be the fifth Olympic Games I have attended and the first one as a coach. I feel privileged to be part of the NZ Olympic team and supporting our paddlers compete at the pinnacle event for most amateur sports like ours. Despite the Olympics being a year late, I feel very fortunate that they are going ahead at all in the midst of an unprecedented global pandemic. Having lived in New Zealand for the last 18 months, I realise we have been very fortunate compared to the rest of the world with the relatively limited effect of Covid-19 on our daily lives. We flew to Japan via Singapore and it was certainly quite a culture shock to be wearing masks continuously for the most part of 24 hours. Very empty flights, lots of hand washing and cautious infection control behaviors. All necessary to protect ourselves as well as others, so I really can’t complain.
We have been warmly welcomed by the Japanese back at Lake Kiba. Five of the NZ men’s team came here three years ago and left a very positive impression on the people of Komatsu, who have been really excited to see Max and Kurtis return for the Olympics.
Today has been an easy day of setting boats up, light paddling and local media, before training ramps up again over the next few days. Max and Kurtis were featured in the local newspaper today, which celebrated their arrival with several reporters and cameras at the airport to greet them.
We have made it here with the support of many athletes, friends, family and the wider paddling community in New Zealand. Now it is time to get back to putting the finishing touches on the training and maintaining focus on delivering the best possible performance for New Zealand in just a few weeks’ time.