Nathan Baggaley

Date of Birth 6/12/75
Height 193cm Weight 90kg
Canoe Club Cape Byron Canoe Club
Home Hometown Byron Bay, Australia
Age begun canoeing? 16

Favourite Training Venue?
My training centre at the Australian Institute of Sport on the Gold Coast, Australia

What Made you decide flatwater was the sport you wanted to do?
I started paddling and racing on surf skis in the ocean. I was competing well in that and decided to make the change to flatwater as my coach suggested it and as it is an Olympic sport.

Preferred Racing Distance?
My preferred distance is actually the 1000m although I have been the world champion in the 500m for the last 2 years. Work that out?

Favourite Training Session?
My favourite session is a session we do most weeks. Its 3x 3km races. We do them as time trials and we start in a group of around 8-10 people. You lead when you feel good and everyone tried to cross the line first even if they have been on the wash the whole way. Its very tough and I like making the others hurt when I feel good.

Favourite Training camp Location?

I guess for me I would have to say in Europe my favorite training camp venue is Hazewinkel, Belgium. I have trained there most of my time in Europe and am using it as my base as a lead up to Athens. It has all the facilities I need but is away from all distractions and all the training facilities are in walking distance so no time is lost with travel.

Why do you enjoy canoeing so much?

I really enjoy the travel and the competiton. I like challenging myself and the thrill of racing.

What is the current situation with Canoe Kayak in Australia?

It’s a little down at the moment as a lot of the older successful athletes have moved on and we are in a state of development with a lot of talented young paddlers coming through. We still have some good athletes though and should have a few medals this year hopefully both in the men and women.

Do you have any pre race ritual ..which brings you luck?

No, not at all. Im not superstitious and believe that I am in total control of my destiny.

How has your recent string of world titles affected your life? any negative aspects?

There have been some changes and some are negative. There comes a lot of pressure now everytime I race to win. You cant win everyday though and if you try to then you will neglect the hard work needed to win in the long run. There are a lot of positives though, such as it has put me more in the spot light and more well known and means that I meet more people. I really enjoy meeting new people especially when I travel overseas. Its also a lot easier to get help when I travel being a world champion. People are more interested in helping world champions so im not complaining. Its also allowed me to get to know other world champions a lot better. I don’t feel so out of place talking or training with them now and it has broadened my knowledge also.

What does your typical day consist of?
A typical day for me when im training in Europe involves training 4 times a day with 2 paddling sessions, 1 gym session and a running session. In between that it is resting and eating.

What current equipment are you using and how does this benefit your performance?
I use a few different pieces of equipment. I have used for many years a twisting seat in my kayak. Nelo now manufactures these in Europe. I also use a trailing rudder on my race kayak. I don’t know if there is any advantages but I just like the feel and like to be different also.

Do you have any other interests other than kayak?

I am still very much involved in surf ski racing and it is still my first love. It is a lot more exciting and challenging than kayaking. I love most water sports and anything that involves the ocean. I love surfing also and spend most of my time in some form of water.

How well are australian athletes funded?
Unfortunately not so well. I have now won 2 world titles but I still have to work to support my paddling. I work part time as a lifeguard in the summer in Australia. I have had increased assistance this year though which has helped a lot. In the past I have had to pay for my trips overseas, but this year it is all paid for so I am happy with that. That is the only real assistance we get though.

What is the selection policy like in australia?
I think it is probably like most countries and there is always some problems. I don’t think there is a perfect policy that will make everyone happy. I had a problem this year with my K2 1000m as we were undefeated and won 2 out of 3 of the selection races. We missed the first selection race and won the last 2 but we were then told that we were ineligible because we didn’t line up in the first one. We were kept out of the event on a minor technicality and not because we weren’t the best crew so its frustrating sometimes.

How long have you spent on the team?

I have been on the Australian kayak team every year since 1997. That makes this year my 8th straight year on the team and this my 2nd Olympic Games.

What is you favourite distance (K1-2-4, 200, 500, 1000)?
My favorite distance is the K1 1000m. Although I am the K1 500m world champion and is still a much harder event to win as there is no room for error as it is so short and explosive. The K1 1000m is a little more forgiving and you can make a mistake and still win. You cant do that in the K1 500m.

Do you study and if so what are you studying?
I was studying but have had had to defer it because of the amount of time I spend away each year. I was studying a bachelor of science but have had trouble completing my lab sessions as I spend about 4 months overseas each year. This year I am away for 5.5 months

How do you feel about your overall performance last year?
I was really happy as I successfully defended my world title. I also had my best result in the K1 1000m with a 3rd place. I think I was the best performed K1 paddler over both distances so I am very happy especially as it points me in a good position in a lead up to the Olympics.

What do you wish to improve upon for Athens?
I definitely want to improve my K1 1000m result. I believe that I can win that event as well as my K1 500m. I will be looking to win the 2 K1 events.

What do you feel is the most important part of your race?

I think my start is one of my biggest strengths. I can always get to the front of the race pretty quickly and then I like to stay there. Im working on the back end of my race now.

Talk us through your k1 500 race at gainsville?

It was a difficult race to prepare for as I wasn’t paddling as well as I had earlier in the season in Europe in the world cups. I knew I was still going to be competitive but I really wanted to win 2 world titles in a row so I wouldn’t of been happy with anything less than a win. I had a nervous start as I got called for a false start in the final. I then had to line up again and make sure I didn’t break and get disqualified. As soon as the gun went I got away well and took the lead after about 150m. From there I pulled away and I knew I had it won with 150m to go. A couple of the guys were closing the gap but I knew they wouldn’t get me before the finish line so I just maintained my rhythm. I knew I had it won as soon as I crossed the line.

How was the k2 200 at last years worlds? talk us through the heats and finals?
It was a bit of a bonus race for me. Anyone who knows about 200m races knows who Vince is. He is a freak of a 200m paddler so when he asked me to do the K2 200m I jumped at it. We had our first ever paddle that week of the world titles. We hadn’t trained for it and thought if we could sit straight in the boat we could be a chance. Vince had a bit of a lazy season though and was under trained. We had some awesome races in our heats and semis and were very happy to make the final. Vince then had a great race in his K1 and got a 2nd. The trouble was that he wasn’t quite fit enough to back up for the K2 so soon after and we had a very ordinary race then. I guess I was a little tired to after winning the K1 500m earlier on also,

What specific work did you do with vince in preperation for this?

To be honest, nothing. We got together on the week of racing. All we did was practice some starts. That guys has some serious speed and strength.

Who do you see as your biggest threat in the k1 500 in Athens?
I guess there are many guys that will be competitive in the K1 500m. There are actually to many to name and the nature of the event means that anyone who who is in the final is good enough to win. Im just hoping that I can repeat my performances of the last 2 years.

Your chances for gold at athens are high, what is you opinion on this?

Definitely! If I didn’t think that I could win then I would even line up. I go into every race to win. A lot of people ask me do I feel the pressure of being the 2 time world champion going into the Olympics, Sure, there is a little pressure, but I just remind myself of what position would I rather be in. Would I rather have the pressure of being the best in the world twice leading into it, or the pressure of trying to beat someone that has won the last 2 times and trying to work out how to beat that person. I would rather be in my current position any day so Im sure there are a lot more people feeling more pressure than me.

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