Riding waves is Mallory Franklin’s day job but the slalom canoeist feels she’s clambering on the crest of form at just the right time ahead of next year’s Olympics in Tokyo, writes Tom Harle.
The 25-year-old paddler claimed her maiden European individual title and roared to double World Cup gold on home water all in the space of last month.
And with the year-to-go barrier crossed and the 2020 Games in sight Franklin, who hails from Windsor, feels she’s peaking at the right time with the World Championships in September.
— Team GB (@TeamGB) July 24, 2019
“I have had a really good year so far and I hope that can continue into the Worlds,” she said.
“I am the best I have ever been, although possibly not the best I am ever going to be.
“At the moment I am reaching the pinnacle where I am strong enough to paddle how I want to and those two factors combined are allowing me to get the results that I want.
“I am a paddler that tries to enjoy what I do and I have never been only focused on the Olympics.
“But having that opportunity is part of me wanting to be the best paddler that I can be, I want to be the best in the world and the Olympics is a huge part of that.
“Rio was a big outside shot for me after some injuries, but just to be part of that selection and be involved was pretty cool.
“But this will be the first where the outcome matters to me. It was such an outside chance you never really believed it was possible but now, it actually could happen, it could be me.”
It’s a testament to the strength of British canoeing that Franklin will have a fight on her hands to get a spot on the single boat bound for Japan.
Olympian Fiona Pennie, who finished sixth in the Rio final, will challenge for the kayak spot and nine-time World Cup medallist Kim Woods will also contend in both canoe and kayak.
But Franklin has been a force of nature in recent times, becoming Great Britain’s most successful female canoeist with eight individual and three team medals in the 2018 season.
And the Berkshire star is hot property whether in canoe or kayak, securing silvers in both disciplines at last year’s World Championships in Rio.
Competition for places doesn’t frighten her in the slightest and Franklin is coming prepared for the expectation she’ll reach the Olympic podium in a year’s time.
“The standard in the team is really high, we are now at a point where pretty much every member of our senior team is capable of making a World final,” she said.
“That’s crazy and unheard of for us. No matter who ends up getting that one spot, that will stand them in very good stead
“It is an odd dynamic, but there is so much respect within our sport. Just because you aren’t the one going to the games doesn’t mean you are not one of the best in the world.
“Everyone is fighting to get to that level, only one boat goes and you would love to be that person."