The World Canoe Slalom Championships are taking place in Prague this weekend and Armoy’s Hannah Craig is looking to finish a season that even she admits has been a “rollercoaster” on a high note.
After reaching the K1 Olympic final last year, becoming the first Irish woman to do so, Craig has had an up and down 2013 but continues to rank Ireland inside the top 15 nations in the world.
That will once again be her goal for these championships when qualifying takes place today with the semi-final and final scheduled for Sunday.
“The first World Cup was ok-ish with mistakes, I finished 10th nation (23rd overall) but then I got ill just before the second World Cup and missed out,” explained Craig.
“We weren’t sure about the third one, as it was the following weekend. Even though I wasn’t physically in good shape wemade the call to give it a shot anyway. More for the learning aspect, sometimes you’ve got to race not in good shape.
“My racing was ok, for the top half of each run, but I physically couldn’t bring it home and made big mistakes on the bottom section.
“At the fourth event in Tacen we tried to integrate what we were working on for Prague, with more aggressive lines and paddling style.
“I can safely say it didn’t work out. It was a bit of a hit to the ego because it felt like a step back.
“But I also know that when you’re trying to make changes, sometimes you go back before you go forward and this was a good example.”
The preparations for this weekend appear to have gone well and with her partner and coach, Han, they’ve based themselves in Prague since the end of July.
“I have had to work hard over the last seven weeks to try and add the “aggressive” element to my paddling,” added Craig.
“I can say it hasn’t been easy, but I’ve definitely improved on that aspect which means my overall paddling skills will improve as a whole.
“My hopes for the Worlds are simple: stick to my philosophy and seize the opportunity. ‘Session by session, day by day, run by run, I shift my baseline’ and this is a great opportunity to do so.
“I’ll follow the technical goals I have set myself. I don’t focus or worry about results. I just focus on my goals and the lines I have chosen.
“My main mantra on race day, even every day, is ‘To the pole, under the pole.’ That’s what slalom is, no?”