Canoeing guide - London 2012 Olympic Games

Your complete guide to canoeing ahead of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games

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Converted: Wet 'n' wild action that promises to deliver a bumper crop of British medals.

Confused: I’m pretty sure I’ve done this at Thorpe Park. 

Canoeing - The essential guide

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Street cred: Canoes were trending spectacularly in 2007, when it emerged that a man called John Darwin had faked his own death in a pretend kayak tragedy. Since then, things have been quiet.

Basics: Olympic canoeing consists of two disciplines, slalom and sprint, which are divided into canoe and kayak categories.

Sprint – a straight race along flat water. There are 12 gold medals available with distances ranging from 200m to 1000m.

Slalom – a spectacular event also known as white-water canoeing, where paddlers duck and weave through rapids and negotiate a course of 25 gates.

Who’s good? The central and eastern Europeans, such as Slovakia, Germany and Hungary.

Glory-hunting potential: British slalom canoeists will benefit from having access to the new Lee Valley White Water Centre prior to London 2012 and are officially targeting medals in all four events, plus a whopping 11 more on flat water.

Athletes to watch: Multi-gold-medal winning Slovakian twins Pavol and Peter Hochschorner are an imperious pair... imagine if 'Twins' was about two Arnold Schwarzeneggers and no Danny Devitos.

As seen in: 'Deliverance' (1972), although it might put you off the sport for life.

Almost useless fact: The main difference between a kayak and a canoe is that kayak paddles have blades at both ends whereas canoe paddles have a blade at only one end. Glad we've cleared that up.

Do say: 'Canoeing may be a low-profile sport but with so many medals available, success on the water could propel Great Britain up the overall table.'

Don't say: 'Watersports are totally my bag.'

British Olympic hopefuls

© Balint Vekassy (ICF)

What would your advice be to someone taking up your career?

I started canoeing because it was great fun. Just give it a shot and see where it takes you.

If the monarchy suddenly disbanded, which song would you want played at your gold-medal ceremony instead of the national anthem?

I’d have to ask for 'Flower of Scotland'.

What's your favourite London spot or guilty pleasure?

I’ve just recently moved to Loughton – home of ‘The Only Way is Essex’. It’s great! I love going into the city centre and even went to see my first ballet the other week.

What physical aspect of yourself are you most proud of?

It’s an upper-body sport so I have pretty strong arms, abs and chest muscles. But my legs are perhaps a bit weak, having been neglected while sitting in a boat for all these years.

What is the most common misconception about your sport?

That it’s rowing. We’ll chat to people for ages about being the British canoeing team, then they’ll call their mate over and say we’re the British rowing team.