World Championships Hangover – In the eyes of an athlete

If any of you know an athlete from the world championships well, you have probably heard this term before and if not it is something to realise.
At the world championships for any sport the athletes don’t just get that good overnight. It has taken years of hard training, commitment, struggles, opportunity-loss, piggy bank breaking and bodily abuse. But it is accepted as more than worth all of this to these athletes, to prove themselves as the best and ultimately strive for that World Championship title.
“The beauty is in the eye of the beholder” has never rung more true. The beauty of the title of becoming a world champion is most strongest in the eyes of the athletes working the hardest for it.
It is however an amazing time for all the athletes, filled with all sorts of emotions, world-wide friendships and one general common goal – to be the best damn paddler they can be!
Some choose to arrive as early as possible at the competition feature in order to give themselves any advantage possible of being familiarised with the climate, altitude, local foods, water temperature, levels and to know the feature like the back of their hands. 
Meanwhile, others choose to show up a little later and train at their more local features to save money and avoids the lines, pressure and stress that comes with having been there for awhile.
Either way all athletes sacrifice a lot to be there which puts enough pressure in itself.
Anyways as i ramble on i should just clear up this is the beginning of the becoming drunk. Overtraining, stress, lack of sleep, tired muscles and for many a shortage in their usual alcohol intake.
As Worlds rolls in and athletes walk the streets in parade of the opening ceremonies, the real anxiety kicks in. This is it, what you have been eagerly waiting for, pursuing and striving towards; this is the surreal moment when it all truely begins.
Next thing you know, you are in the water with your bib on, crowd cheering, air raid sirens blearing and the head judge is giving you your queue to take your first ride!
This either makes or breaks you. Does the anxiety and pressure take over and you underperform, forget how to do everything you have repeatedly performed to perfection everyday up to now, or do you raise to the moment and perform above and beyond your usual abilities?
Either way the emotions will run high!
Then, all of a sudden the World Championships is over, was everything you did enough?
For most, no. You spend a lot of time pondering where you went wrong, why you couldn’t perform to your usual standard and figuring out a new plan for next time and then move on and celebrate your friends accomplishments!
If you did your best but it still wasn’t enough to claim the title, you shine your bright smile, take pride in you achievement, set goals for the next time and then celebrate your friends incredible accomplishments.
And last but certainly not least, if you did succeed in becoming the champion, you take great pride, become overwhelmed with emotion, everything has paid off, the dream has been achieved, where to from here? Well first of all off to the party to go celebrate as soon as that medal is around your neck!
The biggest thing to read from all of this is that no matter how you perform, you all end up back in the same place for the same reason…. the after party, to celebrate either your friends or your achievements and make the most of your last moments with many of your friends(until next time).
Now the worlds hangover doesn’t reflect the day after the party as many would assume.
It reflects the days, weeks, sometimes even months after the event; when you return home or move on to your next adventure.
For many this means going back to a more “normal” life, of many non kayaking friends, family and work. It can be a complete flip side to the life you have been so committed to and living so hard for the last month or more. This is the hard part mentally and physically. All of a sudden you are surrounded by people that maybe don’t share your common interest, instead of waking at 5am to go train again, you are waking at 5am to work a 15 hour day (again) and your kayak is collecting dust while your car is getting worked.
No-one gets you, nor understands your ‘other’ lifestyle. Its as though you never even lived it as it lays in your mind as nothing more than a distant memory.
This is the hangover i’m referring to.

It is important however to remain positive. find strength in your situation, whatever it may be. Work hard to fund the next trip. The more you work, the sooner you can afford it. Treat everything as training (or cross-training), keep in touch with your friends via social media and keep stoking the fire burning inside you. For if you truely want it, next time you will come back even stronger!
See you on the water and hopefully at the next World Championships!

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