Returning to the Water!


Southampton Solent University Senior Sports Lecturer, Guy Holmes, has come out of semi-sporting retirement in an attempt to resurrect an elite athletic career. Guy will be sharing his experiences as he attempts to battle his way back to elite competition via this blog. Here’s his first post:

After 35 years out of a flat water kayak, I have returned and I am not sure why. It’s a few months into the comeback trail and the pain, the cold and getting wet haven’t changed. So what has? The short answer is the kayaks and the paddles. The kayaks are far less stable and the paddles are no longer flat!! The longer answer would involve trying to understand what has changed about me, and I am not alone. Born again athletes seems to be a growing phenomenon. It’s not that I have been away from sport for the last 35 years. At 18 I gave up competitive kayaking and turned to Olympic Weightlifting, I was reasonably successful, winning medals at national championship, until injury forced me to quit at 22. I returned to Olympic Weightlifting at the age of 31 and won the British Masters at 35. Then work and family forced another retirement.

At 41 I started to run and I have run regularly until last summer, entering the occasional 10K. Running was OK, it was a convenient way to keep fit but not really my thing. Then the Olympics happened. I watched the men’s K1 1000m at Eton Dorney, 1000m was the only Olympic sprint distance 35 years ago. At Eton, Dorney I met a fellow international from my era, I felt a little nostalgic, but not enough to get back into a boat. Later that week, Ed Mckeever won the men’s 200m, a new Olympic distance, and that set me thinking. He was my height and build. Being small was no longer a disadvantage, it was no longer all about VO2 max. Power to weight ratios are now important. Small paddlers can get off the start quicker and the distance is too short for O2 uptake to take predominance. Maybe, just maybe, I could do this. It was a bonus when I discovered that sprinting at masters level was over 200m. The motto that was plastered all around the Olympic venues was “Inspire a generation” I wonder if Lord Coe’s team had my 50+ generation in mind?
To be continued…

Picture: Zhou Yubo (China) in the men’s Kayak Single (K1) 200m Canoe Sprint heats at the London 2012 Olympic Games at Eton Dorney.


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