Olympic canoe and kayak competitors train 2-3 times a day, six days a week, fuelled by porridge, bananas and berries
Anna Hemmings MBE is best known as Britain’s most successful ever female canoeist, a two-time Olympian and six times World Champion. She is retired from professional sport now, but who better to tell us what makes a world-class canoe or kayak champion?
Which teams should we be looking out for in the Olympic canoeing?
Anna: The strongest nations in canoe and kayak racing are traditionally Hungary and Germany, particularly in the women's racing, you would expect them to medal in many of the women's events. In Hungary, canoeing is a national sport.
In the men's racing its a bit more varied but we should definitely look out for Team GB because in the men's 200m events GB have the current European Champions; Jon Schofield & Liam Heath in the K2 (double kayak) 200m and along with Ed McKeever who is a former World and European Champion (between 2010-2011) the Brits have some definite medal potential.
How much do canoeists train, and where?
Anna: The British squad is based at Bisham Abbey - an EIS (English Institute of Sport centre) where they have fantastic gym facilities and all the support staff - physio, massage, medical, sports science etc) The water-based training at this time of year is mainly on the the Olympic regatta course at Dorney Lake, Eton.
Regarding training, it depends which event they are training for, but most of them will be training 2-3 times per day 6 days a week with 1 or 2 afternoon's off and a Sunday rest day: 20-25hrs per week. What kind of off-water workouts do canoeists follow?
Anna: Training depends on the event, the time of year and the coaching philosophy. During the winter there is a lot of fitness training - running and swimming endurance sessions and intervals to build cardiovascular fitness. In the gym they do a lot of weight training, a mixture of strength endurance - lots and lots of reps of bench press, bench pull and multiple abdominal, trunk and core exercises. Core strength is critical. Those racing in the shorter distances will do a lot more strength and power-based weight training ie lower reps and max reps.
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How about nutrition, are there any power foods that you recommend?
Anna: My favourite power foods include lots of berries - raspberries, strawberries & blueberries for vitamins and antioxidants that you need to stay healthy and virus-free and they are yummy too! Bananas are always an athletes' favourite, particularly the ones that are just ripe (yellow not brown) for a slower energy release and especially when eaten with some seeds and nuts.
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My other favourite would be sweet potato, again great tasting, full of goodness and prolonged energy release. Finally, porridge for breakfast with the above fruits.
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Anna Hemmings is an ambassador for Special Olympics GB, the official charity partner of The British 10k powered by Nike+. Special Olympics transforms the lives of children and adults with intellectual disabilities everyday across the country. Visit www.specialolympicsgb.org.uk to find a club near you.
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