Pennie sets her sights on qualifying for Tokyo

Fiona Pennie is aiming to qualify for another Olympic Games
Fiona Pennie is aiming to qualify for another Olympic Games

Fiona Pennie will need to use all of her experience if she is to turn an average season into one that ends up taking her to the Tokyo Olympics.

The 37-year-old is one of the oldest members of the British team and has already appeared at the Beijing Olympics in 2008 and in Rio last time around.

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But by her own admission, she has had a less than pleasing season so far.

Pennie’s vast experience has also seen her become the go-to for boat repairs among her peers but when the World Championships roll around once more, from September 25-29, she will have just one thing on her mind – a performance worthy of Olympic qualification.

“I have not had a particularly great season so far and the races I have entered have been a bit of a struggle however I am still quite confident going into the World Championships,” said the two-time global silver medallist.

“I have got a nice new boat that feels a lot better than my older one and I have always brought my best game to the World Championships so I think I will be alright.

“This sport is so up and down and no one is ever at the top for a long time so you just have to analyse your results and races when you are not doing so well.

“The way that the programme is set up now means that younger athletes can come through in this sport much faster – they make me feel a little bit old sometimes.

“I have always been a very practical person too and along the way I have learned how to fix the boats so now I seem to be the person that everyone comes to for repairs.

“I come to work with my toolbox and I have helped to repair a few of the others’ boats along the way too.”

Paddling runs in the Pennie family too – Maureen, Fiona’s mother was an international sprint canoeist and still comes to watch her daughter compete.

And Pennie will be hoping to put a smile on her mother’s face at the World Championships in La Seu d'Urgell, Spain knowing that nothing but her best will be good enough.

“Having the Olympics qualification at the World Championships does detract a little bit from the competition in its own right but I have always tried to think of it as a World Championships,” she added.

“It doesn’t matter what the race is – you are always going to focus on your own processes and do the best you can.”

  • Great Britain’s slalom paddlers will be competing on home soil at the European Canoe Slalom Championships presented by Jaffa on 15-17 May 2020 at Lee Valley White Water Centre. Tickets go on sale on Tuesday 1 October. Full booking details on priority tickets are available at https://www.britishcanoeingevents.org.uk/

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