Chasing gold again

Alana Nicholls
Alana Nicholls Clive Mason - Getty Images

KAYAK star Alana Nicholls has already won gold in London.

But that was just practice - now she wants the real thing.

Nicholls won a gold medal in the Olympic test event held in London last year, confirming her as one of the rising stars of the sport that she only took up five years ago.

The 26-year-old had shown her potential by winning the open mixed double ski in 2007 at the National Surf Life Saving Championships at her home beach of Scarborough, Western Australia.

"We were hoping to just make the final at the time. Then we won it which was truly one of the most memorable sporting moments of my life," Nicholls said.

Her performance caught the eye of Olympic kayak medallist Ramon Andersson.

The dual Olympian and 1992 Olympic K4 1000m bronze medallist persuaded Nicholls to try kayaking.

Andersson still coaches her to this day.

After two successful domestic seasons in 2008 and 2009, Nicholls took 2010 off to do "absolutely nothing".

The West Australian returned with gusto after her year-long sabbatical, winning three world cup medals and gaining selection for her first world championship campaign.

At that regatta she came fourth in the K1 200m and fifth in the K1 500m, qualifying Australia a position in the K1 500m in London.

And after dominating the Australian selection trials earlier this year, she also qualified a K1 200m boat for the Games - confirming her selection in both events.

After completing "the hardest block of training I've ever had" in Perth, Nicholls is now in Europe putting the final touches on her Olympic campaign, knowing she is a real chance of finishing on the dais in London.

"Last year at the worlds I came close to medalling, and that hurt added fuel to the fire for this year," she said.

"Now I know I belong at this level."

So much so that she believes she can repeat what Ken Wallace did at Beijing in 2008 when he won gold for Australia in the men's K1 500m.

"That's what I want," Nicholls said. "In London, there will only be eight people in the final.

"I'm not going to line up and think 'there's an Olympic world champion to the left of me and a world champion to the right of me'.

"All I can do is try to get the one-percenters right that will get me on the podium, singing the national anthem.

"I'm not going to get intimidated."

Topics:  kayaking london olympics

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