Watching Ricarda Funk bounce her way down K1 canoe slalom courses across Europe this year, it is hard to imagine she will ever be beaten.

Her wins at three consecutive ICF World Cups this year have been so emphatic that many of her opponents are already looking at this month’s Pau World Championships as a race for silver.

But if anyone knows what the difference is between racing a World Cup and a high-pressure World Championships, it’s Ricarda Funk.

She only needs to think back to what should have been her second biggest race last year, and a loss to German teammate Melanie Pfeiffer that denied her qualification for the Rio Olympics.

It was a surprise result, as Funk had dominated the K1 World Cups all summer.

“I hate to be the favourite,” she said.

“I remember the Olympic selection last year, I was maybe the favourite and it didn’t end up so well.

“I hope it’s a learning process, so we will see what I will do at the World’s.”

The 2017 version of 25-year-old Funk is very different to the pre-Rio model. Funk said she feels no different on the water, but there is something different.

“I’m feeling really good,” Funk said.

“Yes there is a little bit of pressure, but I am paddling for me and not for anyone else. So I’m trying to do my best, and I want to be satisfied at the finish.

“Maybe it’s something in the head, or maybe I’m more focussed, or maybe it’s experience.”

Funk heads in to the season-ending fifth World Cup in La Seu D’Urgell next weekend with 230 points in the women’s overall K1 standings, well ahead of Czech Jana Dukatova on 177 and Australia’s Jessica Fox on 176.

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