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Last Updated: Saturday, 7 August, 2004, 07:31 GMT 08:31 UK
GB paddlers to flex muscles
By Andrew Fraser
BBC Sport

Tim Brabants with his bronze medal in Sydney
Britain's flatwater canoe team may be sharing the same venue as the rowers at the Olympics, but the profile of the two sports could not be more different.

While Matthew Pinsent's quest for a fourth gold will dominate the headlines, GB's paddlers know only medals will thrust them into the spotlight.

Hopes are high, however, that the nine members of the sprint and slalom team can improve on the silver and bronze picked up in Sydney four years ago.

Tim Brabants is confident he can stage a repeat of his charge to bronze in the one-man kayak 1,000m.

And team-mate Ian Wynne could come away with two medals - one in the kayak 500m and another in the two-man version of the 1,000m event with Paul Darby-Dowman.

Brabants managed to juggle his training with medical studies in Nottingham until he qualified two years ago.

The 27-year-old now works one day a week as a house officer in emergency admissions at Nottingham City Hospital, and plans to go full-time after the Games.

He followed up his gold medal at the 2002 European championships with fifth at the worlds last year, and took European silver in Poznan in May.

"I've prepared well and training has been going well," Brabants told BBC Sport.

Potentially we could come back with double the medal haul from last time
Britain's Ian Wynne
"I'm pretty confident I will make the final and once you get there it is anyone's game.

"I performed better than expected in Sydney so hopefully I can do the same in Athens.

"Having been to an Olympics already has given me confidence, and I know what I can do."

British canoe team leader Alan Williams agrees.

"We have big hopes for on Tim, who is going very well and is in the frame for a medal," he said.

"And Ian was phenomenal during the winter. He is looking awesome and has been top dog all year."

Wynne has used his studies in corrective high-performance exercise kinesiology to develop his diet and training routine.

And he is fresh from double success at the European championships, which as an Olympic qualification event also included most of his top rivals from around the world.

He won silver in the 500m, and teamed up with Darby-Dowman - a veteran of the Atlanta and Sydney Games - to win bronze over 1,000m.

Ian Wynne and Paul Darby-Dowman
Wynne and Darby-Dowman won European bronze in May
"My chances for Athens are similar in both events," said Wynne.

"It was hard to peak for the Europeans and then do it all again for the Games, but it's looking like we're really flying and on course.

"Touch wood, we will be able to get medals again.

"The Europeans are a fair indication of what's going to happen at the Games. We've beaten crews all year and there is no reason why we can't do that again.

"I know the slalom team have also been going very well and winning medals in their competitions during the year.

"So potentially we could come back with double the medal haul from Sydney - if everything goes to plan."

Britain's canoe slalom silver medallist from 2000, Paul Ratcliffe, missed out on a place in Athens to Campbell Walsh.

Walsh is known for his colourful hairstyles, but two silver medals at World Cup events this season suggest the 26-year-old Scot could be another to make a splash in Athens.

Links to more Canoeing stories



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