Edinburgh canoeist David Florence has new priorities in his life as he prepares for his first season since becoming a father.
However, the double world slalom champion and two-time Olympic silver medallist has not ruled out extending his glittering career until he is almost 40.
It could easily be assumed that next summer’s Olympic Games in Rio will offer him one last chance to upgrade his silvers from Beijing in 2008 and London three years ago to gold in Brazil, but Florence also has half an eye on the Tokyo Olympics in 2020 when he will be 38.
“I’m getting on a bit, but I’m not the oldest by a long way,” he pointed out. “All my focus at the moment is on Rio, but I wouldn’t say ‘definitely not’ to Tokyo 2020.”
The selection process for Rio has already begun, and this weekend’s British team trials at Lee Valley are part of that. Even such a talismanic figure as Florence is not guaranteed selection, and he explained: “These are crucial races and an important stepping stone. This year will decide who goes to Rio, so it’s a massive year. The European and World Championships should decide the team, and there are selection races at the end of October if necessary.”
Further spice is added by the fact that this summer’s World Championships take place on the Olympic course at Lee Valley, so Florence is particularly pleased to be competing there this weekend: “It’s good to do races at Lee Valley. I’m doing the C1 (singles) and C2 (doubles with Rich Hounslow) and both are going fairly well in training. I’ve spent most of the winter at home, apart from a two-week training camp in Dubai. My first child – a little boy called Arlo – was born in January and I’m still managing the situation as we go along, but training has been going well. I just try to get enough sleep to be able to train well.”
Florence has also had to adjust to his new status as an ex-world champion after failing to retain his two 2013 titles at last September’s Worlds in America.
“You go back and evaluate it, but sometimes you just have to put it down to the nature of the sport,” he said. “Yes, it was disappointing, but the season as a whole was a good one for me, so there were a lot of positives to take from it.”