The canoe slalom duo of Sydney University Elite Athlete Program (EAP) scholarship holder (B. International & Global Studies) Rosalyn Lawrence and her sister Kate Lawrence are vying for spots on the Australian Olympic team. With only one spot available for London, athletes, and sisters, are battling it out ahead of their February 2012 qualifier.

Here are Ros’s thoughts.

 I spent the last week of January in the North Island of New Zealand, preparing for the first international race of the year, the New Zealand Open. The trip was a good chance to take a break from my home course in Penrith, while still being able to train and practice my race routine. Although I wasn’t very happy with my result in K1 and the field in C1 barely existed, I still learned some valuable lessons that will pay off over the next few weeks in the Australian domestic season.

After the race I may have indulged in some ‘creeking’ on the Kaituna River near Rotorua. The Kaituna is a favourite of most kayakers as it is easy to access, and although exciting it is not too dangerous. Locals paddle the Kaituna every day and are aware of any changes in the features and are on hand to give directions, making it a far cry from the type of creeking available in Australia. At home we often have to drive and/or walk for hours to the start of natural creeks where water runs so infrequently that it’s often months or years between descents and the rapids are often different each time.

The main risk with travelling to New Zealand so close to the upcoming selection races was that of getting my boat back through customs into Australia. A feral river weed called Didymo has been clogging rivers in the south island of New Zealand for a number of years now, and customs officers are often reluctant to accept boats, even if they have only been used in the North Island. I have even seen a customs officer taste the water at the bottom of someone’s boat to confirm whether it had been used in salt water, as the paddler claimed. As planned, my boat was bone dry when I brought home, meaning that any potential traces of the weed couldn’t survive, and it came through customs with no problems at all.

Earlier in January I attended a meditation course in Manly, with the aim of improving my focus and clarity of mind. This forms part of my ongoing preparation for our Olympic selection, which will take place in Penrith over the second and fourth weekends of February. There is only one position available for a woman from each country. I have some very strong competition from my sister Kate, amongst others, but I am confident and believe in myself. Keep your eyes peeled for results!