Pic by Balint Vekassy

It’s not hard to know what is driving French canoe sprint paddler Maxime Beaumont to try and qualify for a third Olympics in Tokyo in 2020.

The 35-year-old has had a glittering career and has built up a reputation as one of the quickest men over 200 metres on the planet.

And although he has won many medals during his career, he has found gold medals hard to come by at the very biggest of events, the Olympic Games and World Championships.

Not so at Montemor-o-Velho, in Portugal, where on Sunday he won his third World Cup gold medal in the K1 200 from as many appearances. It was little wonder he was so keen to get to the opening ICF event of the season, when many of his teammates chose to stay home.

“I like this course because I think it is well organised, there is a good area for competition,” he said.

“Sometimes there is a little wind, but it’s a good place to compete.”

At the back of Beaumont’s mind is that Montemor-o-Velho will host next year’s Canoe Sprint World Championships, and given his record and affinity with the course, he would give himself a strong chance of breaking through for a gold medal at that level.

Beaumont went frightfully close to claiming that elusive Olympic gold in Rio last year, losing out by a fraction to Great Britain’s Liam Heath.

If the results had been reversed, Beaumont may well have chosen that moment to put the paddle on the shed wall for good.

“A gold medal is my objective,” he said.

“If I paddle again, it is to win a gold medal. I came to Rio to win gold, but I didn’t. So I will now continue.

“I have to be more attentive with everything I do, because if I do something bad it’s hard. I have to concentrate on every element of my preparation.”

While the mind and the body has been willing, Beaumont found it hard to keep going post-Rio because of other factors that many other athletes struggle with.

“It hasn’t been easy, because I had to find a sponsor so I could continue, and that was quite hard,” he said.

“But now I have a good sponsor who is helping me, so I feel good and ready to compete.”

Beaumont and Heath are expected to renew their rivalry next weekend in Szeged, at the second World Cup of the season.

Canoe Sprint
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