No matter what else happens, I’ve achieved something great

July 26th, 2012

When it comes to Olympic success, canoeing is the sport that stands out for The University of Nottingham.

At the last Olympics in Beijing, former students enjoyed a double success: David Florence bagged a silver medal while Tim Brabants won gold. Brabants also took two bronzes at the Sydney Games in 2000 and has an MBE as recognition of his success.

Four years on, 29-year-old Florence is hoping to strike gold.

“The Olympic Games is really what drives me and motivates me in my sport,” says Florence. “That was the highlight of my career. Just to go there was incredible, and to put in a good performance and be stood on the podium was really amazing.

“It seems like quite a long time ago, and I’m refocusing for the future and London now, but winning a medal meant so much to me.”

And with qualification firmly in the bag, Florence has been able to enjoy the Olympic fever sweeping the country.

“Since Beijing, my training had all been geared towards wanting to compete at London, at the home games, so it’s all about the Olympics for me. To get that qualification out of the way and done, it’s finally like I can really look forward to the Games and know that all of my training is going towards competing in London.”

The University’s sports alumni have been very successful on the water. That’s because Nottingham — despite being landlocked — is home to a very special facility.

“I only applied to Nottingham,” says Florence. “And a big part of that was because the National Water Sports Centre is in Nottingham. Until I was 18 and moved down to university, I trained on the canal. And if you wanted to seriously compete in the canoe slalom, you had to go down to the National Water Sports Centre.”

His commitment to his sport and his rigorous training meant it wasn’t always easy to get the right balance while he was studying.

“It was very difficult,” says Florence. “I faltered with it a bit at one point. I actually failed a year and had to re-sit. But then I starting managing my studies and my training a bit better and ended up taking my final year part-time.

“The University was always good to me and supported me in my canoeing.”

And so, with the opening ceremony fast approaching, how does he feel?

“There’s always expectation on me from myself and also having won an Olympic medal there’s more external expectation,” says Florence. “Having won that medal, I’ve decided to take up an additional category and do both singles and doubles which previously no one ever did.

“Having achieved that Olympic medal makes me freer to try a new challenge. And I know already, no matter what happens for the rest of my career, that I’ve achieved something really great that I’m very proud of.”


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