Ian Marsden

Paracanoeing:
Race Reports

 
Brazil Camp 2016
Jan/Feb 2016
Belo Horizonte
01/02/2016
The travel over to Brazil was long my first stop was Nottingham to meet up with some of my team mates. We then travelled to Heathrow to meet up with the rest of the team and flew to Lisbon in Portugal to make a transfer onwards to Belo Horizonte. We travelled in Business class which allowed plenty of legroom and the ability to sleep in comfort as the flight was 10 hours, but total traveling time was 22 hours.

When we arrived in Belo we were given a Police escort to our final destination allowing our transport to pass through the traffic with ease and safety. The hotel was in a nice quiet location and had everything needed for a training camp especially having the lake only a few yards away. Unfortunately our first few days of training were very wet with heavy rain not seen in the UK as it appeared Brazil was experiencing floods. But it was still very warm and perfect training conditions despite the rain and the odd thunderstorm. Being on a training camp allows you to focus purely on training and nothing else which is great preparation. It’s also an opportunity to get use to sharing a small hotel with your team mate and staff 24/7. My training included a combination of water and gym depending what day it was. The purpose of the camp was to allow the athletes to get use to the climate, location, food and especially the travel from the UK to Brazil and the flight between Belo and Rio where the Paralympics will take place in September.

My overall training experience was perfect hitting all my targets that were set in the UK prior to the camp and more. Being able to experience everything before the Paralympics in September is essential like the weather either heavy rain or high temperatures the lake we will be training on and sharing a small location with your team mates 24/7. Without this sort of experience I don’t think you can fully concentrate on the task ahead with all the distractions around while traveling / training in Brazil.

After training in Belo for over two weeks the team travelled to Rio for the last couple of days before heading back home. Our visit to Rio was very informative taking advantage to look at Lagoa, the course where the canoeing will take place and getting familiar with the surroundings. Sitting at the venue taking everything in was breath taking having only seen photos before it’s hard to explain the beauty of the place surrounded by mountains including the Christ Redeemer looking over you. I cannot think of a more iconic location anywhere in the world to stage the Paralympic canoeing. Along with getting familiar with the surroundings we were also given the opportunity to visit the Christ Redeemer.

This was amazing what a view 700 meters on top of Corcovado Mountain in the Tijuca forest National Park overlooking Rio and more importantly the course Lagoa. The hotel we stayed in while visiting Rio overlooked what must be one of the most iconic and famous beaches in the world Copacabana, and it did not disappoint at all. I don’t think I could ever get board of looking out of the window while having breakfast witnessing such an amazing view; I did have to pinch myself several times.

On our last day in Rio while sitting having lunch I heard a loud noise it was music. I looked out of the window to see thousands of people and in the distance an open top bus with loud music coming from it. This was the start of carnival season in Rio, you really would have to be in Rio to understand how many people covered to streets, it was breathtaking I was totally taken back amazing. The main carnival was happening on the following weekend and will be attended by a million people. This one I was witnessing was just a small local carnival started by what are known as blockers who basically block the road with thousands of people following music; you really would have to witness it yourself.


Powering down lane 5 during the 200m KL1 final
Getting my breath back as realization hits I am the new KL1 200m European champion


2015 European Championships
May 3rd 2015
Račice CZECH REPUBLIC
KL1 MEN 200m Canoe Sprint
3/5/2015
I chose to have an early start travelling down to the race course on the morning of my race final even though I wasn't racing until 12:42. I was nervous and wanted to run a small training session on my own to help settle my nerves with enough time to get off the water and eat.

The weather was looking promising, the sun out and warming up in Račice (Czech Republic). When I was training on the water I went through my processes and did some short bits of speed work. This helped settle my body and mind, now I felt prepared for the afternoons start. After eating and doing my race warm up on the water I moved to the start area giving myself plenty of time in case of any changes to my start time.

At this point the wind had changed direction slightly into a slight crosswind along the 200m course. We were called into the start buckets all the time running my race process focusing down my lane at the finish point 200m away.

We were held in the buckets for an unusual amount of time. I just kept running my process unaware of what was happening in the lanes next to me, as some other athletes kept moving in and out of the start bucket. Eventually we were told to hold our position. You are under starter’s orders, READY, SET I heard a beep as the bucket dropped the race was on.

I planted the paddle deep pulling as hard I could to get the boat moving as quickly as possible. All the time running my process and racing my plan totally focused looking down my lane and unaware of any other boats around me at the time.

As I got closer to the stadium I was aware of the noise from the crowd, the drums, horns and shouting getting louder and louder as I approached the final 50 meters of the race. I ran the last part of my race process with all the power I could put down and crossed the finish line unaware of the beep as I crossed and continued with a couple more strokes just too be a 100 percent sure I was over the finish line.

I felt a feeling of relief when I crossed the finish line, then the realization that I had won as I was called to boat control, the race still going through my mind thinking what I could have done better, having to reminder myself I had won. You are the European champion I kept saying to myself as I paddled across to the landing stage where my coach was waiting to congratulate me. "You smashed it" he said, "you smashed it!!"

See here for the race video on YouTube.


2014 ICF World Championships
August 6th 2014
Moscow RUSSIA
K1 MEN 200m (Paracanoe A)
6/8/2014
Silver Medal at the Worlds in Moscow with a new Personal Best time.

Click here to see my interview after the race on YouTube.
 


2014 European Championships
July 12th 2014
Brandenburg GERMANY
K1 MEN 200m (Paracanoe A)
12/7/2014
The Parcanoe GB team flew out from Heathrow on Monday 7th July 2014 heading to the European Canoe and Kayak Sprint Championships in Brandenburg, Germany. After settling into the hotel late on Monday, we started training on the regatta course on Tuesday to get use to the conditions on the lake as the course can be challenging.

My race in the K1 A class was on Saturday 12th July at 10:53 Lane 5.
After a good warmup on the water I paddled to the start bucket ready for the count down. As the bucket dropped a wave caught my boat from the back and spun the nose of the boat right and then left, after getting it under control I powered down the centre of lane 5 and took the win and Gold on the line with just 0.25 seconds splitting the top 4 athletes.
 


2013 ICF Canoe Sprint World Championships
August 29th - September 1st 2013
Duisburg GERMANY
K1 MEN 200m (Paracanoe A)
30/8/2013
The Paracanoe team drove out to Germany on 24th September 2013 loaded with the boats and took Euro tunnel across. On the first day of the competition (Monday 26th) the team had training and start bucket practice. My first race was on Wednesday 28th and I was in Heat 2 at 10:40am racing the Polish athlete Jakub Tokarz who beat me in the European championships in June. My first goal was to win my heat and beat Tokarz, which I did and it was close on the line but job done and straight through to the final which was set for Friday 30th. The weather in Duisburg was good with temperature low to mid 20’s and a slight head wind.

On the Thursday I watched some of the other GB athletes compete in their finals, which was very stress full and exciting at the same time. Some of the team had also competed on the Wednesday with heats and some had straight finals. I did another practice session on the Thursday afternoon, working through my process.

I found it hard being one of the last GB athletes waiting to compete in the final when the rest of the team had done the race and got medals, so the pressure was more intense. The atmosphere at the event was amazing with over 850 athletes both Paracanoe and Olympic from around the World. The evening before my final I was not feeling great, and in the early hours of the Friday morning I was being sick and had a very bad stomach and spent the rest of the night in the bathroom. I was due to leave the hotel at 8:15am Friday, and at 7:45 my coach knocked on my door to see if I was up because I did not come to breakfast. I just said I had gone to eat early before anyone was up, but the truth was I was still in the bathroom not well and not able to eat or drink as nothing would stay in me.

I kept quiet and got down to the lake, the noise was amazing as some of the Olympic athletes were racing early and the crowds were growing even before 9am. My final was at 10:40 and I was in lane 4 again as the fastest qualifier gets the middle lane. This was great as it was exactly the same set up as my heat. I warmed up in the GB camp area and got ready to get on the lake, by this time the rest of the team were down ready to watch and the noise from the crowd was getting louder.

I started my water warm up as it was a long way to the start area over 1500 meters, the weather was good and warming up with no significant wind. I was called to the start area and then to the start bucket, they announced lane 4 Ian Marsden Great Britain and the noise was amazing even 200 meters away as we had a big GB following with flags all over the stands. The bucket went down and race on, I had a slow start but stuck to my plan and got to speed quick and kept going. I could not see anyone next to me as I never can when I race I just focus down the lane. I crossed the line and next to me Fernando Fernandes from Brazil also crossed the line and I heard only one beep. When the rest had finished I paddled to the big screen with all the athletes and the replay was on, we had to wait for a photo finish. The announcement came and Fernando had won Gold with me second and less than 100th of a second in it. It was so very close and the best race ever, he was dead over the last 20 meters and I was on it. Fernando has been racing for 5 years and has been number 1 since the start, and I have only been racing a year. No other person has ever been that close before, even last year the second person over the line was 6 seconds back like all the other years. We had both smashed the World record too on that race. He admitted he was very nervous before the race and he panicked and had to change his game plan in the race. One thing I always remember is the noise of the crowd, drums and air horns on the last 150 meters it was amazing.
 


Senior European Canoe Sprint Championships
June 14-16th 2013
Montemor-o-Velho PORTUGAL
19/6/2013
The Paralympics and Olympic teams flew out of Gatwick airport on the 12 June 2013 heading for the Senior European Championships in Portugal. I got to meet some of the London 2012 team including the 200 meter Gold medallist Ed Mckeever who I watched win his Gold medal at London. Talking to Ed gave me some inspiration and an insight to the sport being new to it.

This was my first international sprint race representing Great Britain after only racing a few times at the National sprint regattas in Nottingham. The hotel was in a nice location opposite the beach, and transport was provided to the race venue. After the first day I went for a training session on the lake to practice the start buckets, as the lake has a cross wind being exposed and can make it tricky to negotiate the entry into the bucket. The weather started off overcast, but soon turned very hot with some light to strong winds.

My K1 men’s Arms only class 200 meter sprint race was on the first day of racing on Friday 14th at 10:25am. I did not know much or anything about my competitors apart from the sprint racer from Poland who came a close 2nd at the World championships last year, a few of the other racers were new and represented countries like Russia, Italy Spain Poland. I set off for my warm up at 9:50am and we had a dedicated warm up lane separate to the course. After my warm up I paddled over to my coach for a final chat and was then called to my start bucket in lane 4. I had good control in the bucket with the crosswind and held the boat steady. My start was delayed then as one of the Russian paddlers was in the wrong lane and did not seem to understand the English starter to move over lanes. This took over 2 minutes until one of the safety boats’s went over and moved him to the correct lane.

The buckets went down and the race was on, I had a good start out of the bucket and from the start the race was between GB and Poland who is ranked 2nd in the World. I matched him stroke for stroke, he started to get a small lead with about 70 meters to go so I tried to put more power in each stroke pulling as hard as I could and keeping the boat in the centre of the lane as you are not allowed to drift and sit on anyone wash. He was getting tired and I started to pull alongside again just as we both crossed the line. I was put in Silver position on the line as I turned to look at the results. It was a close race which made it more exciting at the end just a couple of more strokes and the result would be different. The Para GB team has never had any medal in my class before, so it was nice to be the first person from Great Britain to do this for my country. I felt very proud on the podium with all my team mates supporting me and the crowed was amazing.

The whole race venue and set up was amazing, just like I had seen when I watched Ed McKeever win the Gold in London over 200 meters. There was a TV camera that went across the lake giving a bird’s eye view which was amazing to see on the big screen and people were watching it live on Eurosport and live streaming online back home.

The next event is on 22/23 June at Nottingham which is our selection for the World Championships in Germany at the end of August. This result should also be taken into account for the selection process. I will hopefully get another chance to beat the Polish racer and take on the current World champion from Brazil Fernando Fernandes, who has won it numerous times.
 

ICF Worlds Moscow 2014


 
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