Alyce Wood was always planning to start a family after the Tokyo Olympics. The grand plan was to have a baby the year after the Games, then, if all went well, get back into training for the Paris Olympics.

She’d hatched the plan with husband Jordan, a fellow Olympian, during a frank and honest discussion about their respective futures. They both agreed it would be impossible for both to continue their elite careers as athletes if they were to start a family.

Fortunately for Alyce, Jordan was more than ready to call it a day.


“Jordan’s a couple of years younger than me, and he was at the top of his career at Tokyo, and we did have that discussion,” Wood told our Path to Paris podcast.

“We kind of knew, both of us, that we wanted to start a family then, and that was the right timing. We then had a discussion that, if both of us kept going, would that be doable? Ultimately we decided no.

“Somebody had to be a non-athlete. Honestly, he was ready to finish and to transition into the next stage of his life. He didn’t hate the sport, he wasn’t injured, he was in career best form – but he just knew that was the right time for him.

“He doesn’t regret it one bit.”

On this particular day I just broke down and cried

But then the enormous spanner. Covid struck, the Olympics were postponed a year, and everyone’s plans were thrown into a spin dryer.

It struck home for Wood on the day the Olympics were supposed to have started. The reality of the situation struck home for the two-time Olympian. Her and Jordan’s well-thought out plan was out the window.

“The initial plan (to fall pregnant) was absolutely 2021, after the 2020 Olympics,” Wood said.

“When it all got postponed, I remember this one scenario so vividly. We were in the gym, it was August 2020, it was the date the Olympics were meant to finish originally, and my gym coach was giving me some feedback on my technique.

“I handle feedback pretty well usually, but on this particular day I just broke down and cried. That’s when it hit me that that was always the plan, from that day to start to try to start a family. Obviously, it was then a year delayed.”

Click here to listen to all our Path to Paris podcasts

Alyce and Jordan had set their hearts and minds on starting a family. The one year delay was a setback, but they decided to go ahead anyway.

Alyce fell pregnant, and in 2022, baby Florence arrived. On Olympic Day. Two years out from the Paris Games.

“Absolutely. I doubted myself so many times right through the whole journey,” Wood recalls.

“I had a really good support crew who brought me down to reality quite a lot and reminded me why I was doing this.

I doubted myself so many times right through the whole journey

“From the start I said to myself that obviously the goal was to make Paris and to be pushing towards that podium, but at the end of the day it’s high performance sport and you’re not guaranteed anything.

“I needed to have more reasons than just that to come back. And I’m pretty bloody glad I did.”

So how did it play out? As it turns out, better than Alyce and Jordan could ever have anticipated. After four weeks, Alyce was back on the water having a paddle. By her own description, it was pretty ugly.

But she pushed through, and eventually was back into heavy training.

“In the long run, it’s worked out pretty well,” Wood said.

“I was a bit stressed about the three year timeline and turnaround to start off with, because we had to come back so quickly after giving birth, because we had to start qualifying spots last year at the world championships.

In the long run, it’s worked out pretty well

“But in hindsight, had it been an extra year, then it would have been an extra year of daycare, and babysitting, and logistics, and terrible two’s, and all these things. I am pretty happy with the timing now.”

Alyce had a pretty good role model. Jordan’s mother, Anna, had a baby in 1994, and was back competing in canoe sprint in Atlanta in 1996, taking a bronze medal. Alyce’s timeline is almost exactly the same.

“It’s still pretty surreal for me to be in the position I’m in, and now heading towards my third Olympics with Florence on the sidelines is pretty cool,” she said.

“I think through that Covid postponement a lot of people went through a lot of different emotions. For me it was this whole postponement of planning to start a family. But in the long run, it’s worked out pretty well.”

Alyce admits to sometimes feeling mum guilt, and is pretty certain this will be her last Olympics. She believes she is ready for the next stage of her life.

Now I look back on it I was way too harsh on myself

But before then, she has unfinished business from Tokyo. There, her main focus was the K2, but she also made the K1 500 final. But she said her performance in the K1 left her feeling embarrassed.

“Just the way I paddled,” she said.

“I knew I could have done better, but  I think because we focussed so much on the K2 we hadn’t done the work.

“Now I look back on it I was way too harsh on myself. I got eighth at the Olympics, which is certainly not bad, and if I get eighth this year I’ll be pretty happy.”

Never miss a podcast, check out our podcast page every Monday!
You can also listen on all your favourite apps; Apple, Google, Spotify, or TuneIn.


Canoe Sprint