Canoeing: Ferguson looking for progress not podium

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New Zealand men's canoe coach Ian Ferguson says the team are looking to take off the training wheels at the sprint World Cup in Poland this weekend.

The Kiwi canoeing team are in the middle of their preparation for the London Olympics and, as such, are focusing more on performances than results at the event.

Ferguson thought the athletes were nearing their peak but, thanks to the wisdom that comes from a long and successful history in the sport, they wouldn't reach 100 per cent until the Games that start in late July.

"It's really just fine-tuning now, that final little bit of speed and little bit of lactic tolerance," he said. "We just haven't done any racing - we've got a big base and really fit and raring to go, but just not quite the racing wheels on that we need - we're still on the training wheels at the moment.

"We as a nation in kayaking, traditionally, have always performed really well at the big races. And that's because we haven't been silly and tried to win everything too early and get burned out. We're trying to make sure we're in the right condition at exactly the right time."

That is a particular perk that some of New Zealand's competitors are unable to enjoy. While the Kiwi squad for the Olympics has been long settled, the same cannot be said of some of the other nations on the startline.

"A lot of these European countries have to race now because they're still racing for positions in the teams and so they've had to force themselves to come up to peak form. In a way, they're at a disadvantage and we're going to enjoy the fact we're in a slightly different space to them."

That advantage may translate to an absence of Kiwis at the top of the dais in Poznan, but Ferguson said there were a multitude of other benefits to be gained.

"We're not worried about results - we obviously want to do really well but that's not our main focus. Our main focus is definitely the process we're going through.

"This is really a good test for them to see how well they can stand up to a bit of pressure and hold their race plans and get some more experience under their belts."

And there were plenty of pitfalls to avoid, too.

"We don't want to come away with any injuries and we don't want to come away with anyone doing really badly. We want to do well, we want to stick to our race plans, we want to follow the process we're going through," Ferguson said.

"We've only been in Europe for a week so we're still nowhere near our form because of jetlag, but the guys are still pretty hopeful they'll do okay. If they do okay now, that'll be fantastic. But we know we've got quite a bit to go yet before we're on form."

The team will also spend their fair share of time studying the competition.

"Definitely scouting and looking at the others. We've been organising the video coverage - we've got a video specialist with us who will be videoing the other teams as well as our teams. We're looking to see, if there's someone doing really well what they're doing and compare them to our guys as well."


- Hamilton News

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