At the height of the Covid lockdowns Ottilie Robinson-Shaw dragged herself, her kayak and her dad and his deckchair down to the beach and set about having a miserable time.

Unable to travel, and with no access to the whitewater course, the only option available to the then teenager was the ocean. It was horrible then, and is now a horrible memory. But Robinson-Shaw said it probably paved the way to her complete domination of the women’s kayak squirt final at the ICF Canoe Freestyle World Championships in Nottingham on Wednesday.

“When the whitewater course was closed and I couldn’t travel to go kayaking, every day I walked down to the beach, my dad sat in his deckchair, and it was freezing cold and the waves were awful and my boat was filled with sand,” Robinson-Shaw said after her win.

“I just pushed through and it was amazing, and I guess that’s why I’m good, from that moment, because I remember that it was hard but I did it.”

The hours spent in the freezing ocean and emptying sand out of her boat translated to a 600-point victory in front of her enthusiastic home crowd on Wednesday evening. If everything goes to plan, the British 20-year-old could end the week with three gold medals.

As this is the first time women’s C1 has been contested at the ICF world championships, Robinson-Shaw would become the most successful athlete at a single world championships in the event’s history.

And despite saying 24 hours earlier she was feeling no pressure, she admitted after her squirt gold that nerves were kicking in. She barely slept at all the night before the final, and her stomach was full of butterflies all Wednesday.

“I felt quite nervous today, I haven’t eaten very much, but I love kayaking and to be out there and have the home crowd and my family watching, it couldn’t be better,” Robinson-Shaw said.

It could get better. Women’s canoe, where Robinson-Shaw easily qualified first, is on Friday. Women’s kayak, where she also qualified first, is on Saturday.

Maybe Sunday will involve a trip to the beach.

Pic by Antony Edmonds/AE Photos

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