David Florence: Focus is next race – not Rio gold

The World Champs are on Florence's home course.  Picture: Ian Rutherford
The World Champs are on Florence's home course. Picture: Ian Rutherford
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The pursuit of an elusive Olympic gold medal is not what is continuing to drive on Edinburgh canoeist David Florence.

He still gets goosebumps when he thinks of the incredible finale at Lee Valley when he and partner Richard Hounslow narrowly missed out on slalom victory at London 2012 .

Edinburgh canoeist Bradley Forbes-Cryans is aiming for a top-ten slot at Lee Valley

Edinburgh canoeist Bradley Forbes-Cryans is aiming for a top-ten slot at Lee Valley

Tomorrow, the World Championships return to the UK for the first time in 20 years and to the scene of his Olympic silver medal success – not to mention where he trains every day – and Florence has a superb chance of adding another gold medal to his collection.

Florence is a British canoeing legend. He was the first Briton to win the C1 World Championship and also the first to secure the C2 title alongside Hounslow. The C1 and C2 double in 2013 had not been achieved by anyone in the world for 60 years. At the 2015 British Canoeing selection event, he won all six of his races, an impressive feat considering the unpredictable nature of canoe slalom.

The remainder of this season has not gone to plan and a disappointing performance in the fifth and final World Cup event meant the 33-year-old had to settle for fifth overall.

However, ahead of this week’s event, Florence said: “It is a really big World Championships and for me the Rio Olympics in 2016 is a huge driving factor in why I have been competing in the last few years,” said the former Stewart’s Melville pupil.

“I am normally much more driven by the next race and performing well there and getting to the next Olympics, rather than particularly dwelling on what I could have done better in the last race.

“Having been to two Olympics and knowing how exciting it is and what an amazing experience it is – not to mention knowing what it is like on the podium – is a huge drive to get to Rio but I don’t really feel that I’m trying to right something that happened in the past.”

Florence will be one of 14 canoeists from these shores to compete in the World Championships and it provides them with an opportunity to secure Team GB a place for next summer’s Olympic Games in several classifications. It also gives the individual athletes the chance to earn bonus points ahead of their own Olympic selection process in October.

Another Capital canoeist, Bradley Forbes-Cryans, is urging the fans to recreate the magic from London 2012 this week.

“When we got gold and silver at London 2012 in the C2, it was fantastic for the sport and at the World Championships we have David Florence in C1 men and C2, we have Joe Clarke in K1 and Fiona Pennie in the women’s K1; I think all of these athletes are capable of producing great results,” he said.

“I think the 2015 World Championships will be a fantastic event. Hopefully we can get fantastic home support behind us. I am looking forward to a great atmosphere and it really does make the difference.

“This will be a very special World Championships for me and hopefully with a big home crowd behind us, it will bring fantastic results.”

This was Forbes-Cryans’ first season on the senior circuit and during the World Cup season he was close to making two 
finals. With canoe slalom being notoriously unpredictable and extensive knowledge of courses pivotal, if Forbes-Cryans reached the final of the World Championships on the course he trains on every day, as he puts it, anything could happen.

The former Edinburgh Academy pupil, who now lives just a few miles from Lee Valley, said: “My hopes for this World Championships would be just to produce a good performance. If it goes well on the day then that could put me into the top ten and the final. Once you are in that top ten then anything can happen. Even if it is disastrous I will have gained some great experience from what is going to be a massive event.

“In terms of Rio next year, if it all goes my y on the day when this event could be the first steps towards gaining those Olympic selection points.

“If you are in the top six you gain 31 points for the selection process and the maximum you can gain from a selection event is thirty, so you would have that one point advantage which could be crucial at the end of the day.”

• SEE the world’s top canoe slalom athletes in action on the Olympic course in London at the Canoe Slalom World Championships. Tickets: www.ticketmaster.co.uk/london2015