It's still some way off, but New Zealand's Olympic silver medallist Luuka Jones has half an eye on the 2020 Games in Tokyo as she enters this weekend's canoe slalom World Cup final in Spain.

Sound a touch premature? Not when you consider the Olympic qualifying regatta will be on the same La Seu d'Urgell course next year.

Getting as familiar as possible will be key for the Rio Games medal winner.

"I'll be trying to put into performance what I've been practising," Jones said.


"I've been doing more mental skills. It's a long term thing but that (the Olympic qualifier) will be the biggest race of the next season so I'm trying to be good at racing there."

It has been a messy season for New Zealand's most successful female paddler.

Competing in both the K1 and C1 categories, she's found getting through qualifying stages has been fairly routine, but what she calls "stupid mistakes" at the sharp end of regattas have been costly.

Jones won her Olympic medal in the K1 category, then took up the more challenging C1 class – where paddlers use a single-sided blade and are positioned differently in the canoe – and found an aptitude for it.

She was left regretting not having taken up that form of the sport earlier.

And that view is unchanged despite the problems this year, wherein she is now in her fourth canoe after initially ordering the wrong-sized boat then not being able to get exactly what she wanted.

Much of it is simply down to feel. Get two identical canoes and one simply feels better than the other to the paddler.

"There are subtle changes you can feel. I still do regret that (late start in C1).


"There are quite a few gaps I'm trying to bridge. Some things are more natural in C1 and now I feel I'm back to a good place and feeling comfortable in the boat," Jones said.

With her K1 work, the 29-year-old from Tauranga is confident she is now paddling with "a nice, efficient technique on the water, not rushing things".

The world championships are coming up in Rio, on the Olympic course, but where the city is a far different place than during the Games of 2016.

"The general vibe isn't too good, it feels more dangerous," Jones said. The fear is the drug lords are regaining control of the slums and life is regressing in Rio.

Still, Jones wants to be a serious figure at the worlds from September 25-30.

"All my focus is on that now."

The other New Zealand women competing in Spain this weekend are Courtney Williams and Claudia Paterson, both from Tauranga, in the K1 category.

Experienced Mike Dawson of Rotorua, Alexandra's Finn Butcher and Jank Dangen of Tauranga are also in the men's K1 class. Tauranga pair Patrick Washer and Ben Gibb are also contesting the C1 men's category.

The World Cup final starts with qualifying in both categories on Friday night and semifinals and finals in the K1 the next day, and for the C1 on Sunday.