Australian young guns gatecrash final at first Olympics

There’s a lot of hype and excitement surrounding an Olympics debut, but for Australian young guns Alyssa Bull and Alyce Burnett it’s all been a bit of a stroll in the park so far.

That’s not to say they aren’t pumped to be in Rio, because they most certainly are. But if you expected them to be a bundle of nerves then you’d be surprised.

Bull and Burnett, who already shocked many in Australia by qualifying for the K2 500, added another level to their meteoric rise on Monday when they qualified for Tuesday’s final.

It was an impressive performance from a crew still so young and inexperienced.

“Being a young crew we’re really pumped to be in that final,” 20-year-old Bull said.

“That was our goal, and we’ve done it, so anything from here on will be a bonus.

“We’re going to give it everything we’ve got tomorrow. You never know, we might surprise. We’re under the radar.”

Part of the reason for their success might well be their sense of calm on the eve of the race. The girls, along with the rest of the Australia canoe team, have opted not to stay in the village so they can be closer to the venue.

They both say they slept solid on Sunday night.

“It didn’t feel like we were racing today, it’s been such a weird experience for us to be here, it’s so surreal,” Bull said.

“It’s partly because we aren’t staying in the village, so staying here just with the kayakers, it’s just like World Championships,” 24-year-old Burnett added.

“But once this is ticked off, once tomorrow is ticked off we’ll actually let our hair down and enjoy ourselves.”

Both Bull and Burnett came to sprint canoe from surf ski backgrounds, and Burnett feels it gave them an advantage with the short gap between races on Monday.

“We’re not the fastest starters, but I suppose for both of us coming from surf we’re used to backing up for race after race, so our endurance is really there,” she said.

Bull said moving to sprint canoe was one of the best decisions of her life.

“I couldn’t get to the Olympics in surf, so that was a big driving force behind my decision to quit surf ski,” she said.

“And I’m so glad I did it, because now I get to come here and be on the biggest stage in the world.”

They by finishing third in the semi-final, setting themselves up for a performance on an even bigger world stage – an Olympic final.


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