Having sat out most of 2016, Australian paddler Ros Lawrence is ready to hit the water with a vengeance in 2017, determined to be on the start line in Tokyo in 2020 when women’s C1 makes its canoe slalom Olympic debut.

And there’s nothing better to fuel the passion than sitting in the stands at an Olympics watching other paddlers go for glory. Lawrence was in Rio, cheering on teammates Jessica Fox, Ian Borrows and Lucien Delfour.

This weekend Lawrence joins a full-strength Australian team, including the three Rio Olympians, at the Oceania Slalom Championships on the brand new slalom course in Auckland, New Zealand.

The Championships also double as the first leg of the selection process for the Australian team to compete internationally this year. It’s also the first year of the four-year Olympic cycle, one that will take on a whole new focus for 27-year-old Lawrence.

“For the last Olympic cycle I mainly focused on K1 because it was the Olympic class,” Lawrence said this week.

“Now I am finally able to focus on C1, which makes me happy when I wake up each morning! I will keep doing K1 as well because I find it compliments my C1 training and I like doing both classes.”

And, as often happens when you take a step back from an activity you have devoted almost every waking minute to for an extended period, Lawrence is looking at the bigger picture long-term.

“The 2020 Olympics is still my goal, but it is important to have other goals and enjoy the process as well,” she said.

“I am enjoying making technical improvements in C1 and will try to balance my life a little better than I have previously. I am looking forward to heading to my favourite places in Europe for training and racing.”

There’s also the excitement of trying out a new venue. The Vector Wero White Water Park promises plenty of thrills and spills.

“The course in Auckland is pretty tough but also fun,” Lawrence said.

“It has plenty of stoppers to jump over and some steep drops. It's pretty physical but it does feel nicer with a bit of practice.”

Lawrence will compete in both the C1 and K1 this weekend. The three-day Oceania Championships begin on Saturday.

The full Australian squad is;

K1M – Lucien Delfour, Jaxon Merritt, Warwick Draper, Timothy Anderson, Benjamin Pope and Alastair Anderson.
K1W – Jessica Fox, Noemie Fox, Rosalyn Lawrence, Kate Eckhardt, Alison Borrows and Dita Pahl.
C1M – Ian Borrows, Brodie Crawford, Tristan Carter, Daniel Watkins, Steven Lowther and Kaylen Bassett.
C1W – Jessica Fox, Noemie Fox, Rosalyn Lawrence, Kate Eckhardt, Alison Borrows and Demelza Wall.
C2M – Kaspar Fiebig / Kristian Fiebig.
C2 Mixed – Lachlan Bassett / Billie Knell.

Canoe Slalom