Scottish canoeist’s Olympic dreams hit by doubts over Games

Bradley Forbes-Cryans is in limbo with Team GB unsure if they will be heading to Tokyo this summer.

Forbes-Cryans in the late stage of preparations for Tokyo 2020.
Forbes-Cryans in the late stage of preparations for Tokyo 2020.

Scots canoeist Bradley Forbes-Cryans has admitted it’s “difficult to take” news that he may not compete in his first Olympic Games this summer.

The 24-year-old, who won gold in the K1 at the World Championships in 2018, has been named as part of Team GB for Tokyo 2020 and is in the late stages of training for his first Games.

The global coronavirus pandemic has hit all sports though and the International Olympic Committee have already set a four-week deadline to decide if the Tokyo Olympics can go ahead as scheduled. Australia and Canada have already said that they will not take part this summer, with the British Olympic Association saying they won’t send athletes if the virus continues to spread as predicted.

That comes as a blow for Forbes-Cryans, who says that even a postponement to the scheduled dates could have an impact on performance.

“For me this is a really surreal period to be in,” he told STV. “I’ve just been selected for my first ever Olympic games and more and more I’m starting to feel the pressure that it realistically might not be going ahead in the summer.

“I’m just taking every day as it comes and training as per normal but it is a real strange one. All of my family and my mates have already booked their flights and accommodation so there’s quite a lot of time and effort that’s gone into that.

“It is a bit selfish thinking about it but it is a bit of a bummer for myself as well as those guys. I’ve trained for the last 15 years of my life to hopefully compete at the Olympic Games and to potentially have that taken away from me is difficult to take.

“To postpone it longer is just extra time that you could potentially pick up an injury, lose your form. There are lots of different aspects to postponing that could mean you don’t bring out your best performance on the day.

“I have a really strong plan set with my team and we’re really hopeful that we can push through this and that the world can bounce back from this virus and get on with what we’ve been putting all our efforts into for the last three years.”

‘If I was told that the Games weren’t going to be going ahead then there’s really no motivation to train at the minute. The Olympic Games is everything that I’m trying to put all my effort towards.’

Bradley Forbes-Cryans

In the short term, Forbes-Cryans is having to adjust after the closure of his training facility and is building a gym at home to keep himself on track.

“I train down at the Lee Valley White Water Centre,” he said. “That’s my base six days a week. Yesterday evening we received communication from the team that the communication base was going to be closed.

“So this morning everyone has had to go in in their time slot so there is only one person in the building at any given time, to go and collect all their kit. For me that was getting my boat, my paddle, all the rest of that canoeing kit but also gym equipment. We’ve been told to take gym equipment away today and I’m currently in the process of trying to reorganise my flat and turn that into a gym at home, basically.

“I’ve been given quite a lot of Olympic lifting kit, a bench pull and lots of heavy dumbbells. My sport is very upper-body specific and you’re doing a lot of single arm rows so for me it’s really important to keep that going.”

As he waits for news, the canoeist admits that it’s with single focus and he is still keen to make a splash in Japan this summer.

“The training is being done with the vision that the Olympics are still going to be going ahead,” he said.

“If I was told that they weren’t going to be going ahead then there’s really no motivation to train at the minute. The Olympic Games is everything that I’m trying to put all my effort towards.”


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