Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Olympic Dreams: David Florence

Name: David Florence

Event: Canoe slalom

Date of birth: 8/8/1982, Age 29

Career highlight: Winning silver in the 2008 Beijing Olympics

Did you know? Before the 2008 Olympic Games, Florence had applied to become an astronaut at the European Space Agency.

Scotsman David Florence is regarded as one of the main men to bag at least one medal for Team GB at the London Olympics. Not only is he competing in the single canoe but also the two-man canoe along with Richard Hounslow. If he achieves this, which is not completely beyond the realms of possibility, he will become the first British paddler to win medals in different disciplines at an Olympic Games.

Florence will be aiming for at least one medal at London 2012

Born in Aberdeen and raised in Edinburgh, David always had a role model in his family, namely his father George who was a former Scottish canoe champion. He began canoeing at the age of 14 along the River Leith which weaves through Edinburgh, and quickly joined the Forth Canoe Club – the oldest such organisation in Scotland. He later moved to Notttingham not only to study for a degree in mathematical physics, but to further his canoeing career at the National Watersports Centre.

After finishing 4th in the 2005 European Championships, David secured 5th at the 2007 World Championships, before making history last month. He won two World Cup gold medals in the C1 and C2 events in Cardiff, which has never happened before, and is the reason why many are tipping him to do the same in London.

His main rival in the C1 will be Tony Estanguet, the double Olympic champion from 2000 and 2004, while in the C2 there could be an interesting battle against British pair Tim Baillie and Etienne Stott. However, David says it is important that he and Richard focus on their own race: “Rivalry is almost irrelevant. You don’t go down the course at the same time and there is nothing anyone else does which affects what I do. If you can put down a great run, you have a chance.”

Canoe slalom requires huge levels of commitment in training, and the technical challenges faced by the paddlers can appear daunting to spectators. Competitors must navigate through 25 gates on a 300 metre course, including a 5.5 metre drop, in the fastest possible time. Penalties of 2 seconds are imposed if a paddler hits a gate and 50 second penalties if the gate is missed altogether. The venue for the canoe slalom is the Lee Valley water Centre, located nine miles north of the Olympic Park.

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