It’ll be a relief to finally get in my canoe when the Games can begin

Bradley Forbes-Cryans is certainly battle hardened as he looks towards his belated Olympic debut in Tokyo next year, writes James Toney.

Bradley Forbes-Cryans of Great Britain Canoe Slalom team trains at the Lee Valley White Water Centre on July 08, 2020 in London, England. (Photo by Justin Setterfield/Getty Images)

The 25-year-old narrowly saw off team-mate Joe Clarke, the defending champion from Rio, to earn his place as Team GB’s K1 canoe slalom paddler.

And then, when news came through of the Olympics postponement, Clarke mounted a campaign to get the selection process reopened.

In the end Team GB confirmed Midlothian’s Forbes-Cryans would hold his slot, meaning more than 650 days will have passed between call-up and debut.

“Talking to Joe has been difficult, emotions run high and there was a lot of noise about my selection,” said Forbes-Cryans, one of more than 1,100 athletes on the UK Sport World Class Programme, funded by The National Lottery.

“I hope we can move past this and he finds the motivation to push on with his career. I want to represent all of us, make the best of this opportunity, and do us all proud.

“One boat per nation means the hardest competition for British paddlers is just making the Games, in some regards making the team is harder than the competition you’ll face in Tokyo.”

At the end of February Forbes-Cryans’ father suffered a stroke and subsequently contracted Covid-19 in hospital.

He is now back home recovering but it was a deeply troubling start to what was meant to be a dream 2020.

“Through my dad, my eyes were opened pretty early on as to how significant the impact of the virus was going to be,” he added.

“I went to hospital to see him twice before the lockdown and that was it really, it had to be FaceTime after that.

“Hopefully now we’re going to see some sort of return to normality. For me my whole life is about sport and this was all set to be one of the biggest years of my life - for that to be put on hold was understandably difficult.

“I’d worked for 15 years to put myself in this position but I’ve tried to take the positives from it. I’m still a young athlete on the international circuit and so another 12 months of preparation time is so bad thing.

Forbes-Cryans admits he may have let his lockdown diet slip a little, though a special delivery from coaches at British Canoeing has put him back on track.

“My training early on was getting out every day for a 30-minute jog, then British Canoeing sorted out getting some weights to my home,” he adds.

“Running was about making gains wherever possible, so my aerobic fitness has raised drastically, it’s at an all-time high and my gym numbers – they’re stronger than I’ve ever been in my life.”

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