March 30, 2017

Hi, anxiety!




OK, something to get off my chest. I’m feeling anxious these days. It’s not usual for me. I’m pretty laid-back, take-it-as-it-comes.

But something about paddling has me a little tied up in knots.

In a little under a month, the International Canoe Federation (ICF) will release their research on classifications for paracanoe. That’s the boat I mainly race these days.

My anxiety lies in the thought that I might get declassified, yet again. Readers of this blog will recall that a couple of years ago, the ICF removed the tests for upper limb impairment from parakayak.

For the record, I think the removal of any upper limb test in a sport that requires holding on to a paddle is…uhh, well, kinda stupid.

I can, in any circumstance, still race in able-bodied kayak categories, and I will do that. But where the paracanoe is concerned, it’s sort of make-or-break where this classification stuff is concerned.
See, I like to have a good idea of what my year will look like. As a husband, father, and full-time worker, it’s actually kind of essential that I know what lies ahead. Vacation time needs advanced booking, family plans, etc.

With this reclassification coming up, I have two alternative routes laid out, and as yet, I don’t know which fork in the road I will be able to take.

Down one fork lies continued acceptance of upper limb impairment in paracanoe. That means thinking about getting to go to national team trials. Trying to qualify for worlds. Defense of my national championship title. There’s also the added carrot of the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) consideration of adding paracanoe to the roster for Tokyo 2020, so there could be a long-term goal, too. 
That’s all a lot to plan for. 
More training, more focus. 
It’s a selfish route, I know.

Down the other fork lies rejection of upper limb impairment tests. That means racing either junior-level able-bodied (read: get my ass kicked by 18 year-olds!) or Masters-level able bodied (read: racing for old farts like me!). That (presumably) means the end of my provincial TeamBC spot, which would be the only reasonable thing, since I'm on the team based on my para results, not my able bodied racing. 
so all in all, this fork = less to plan for. 
I would likely keep my racing to the local regatta circuit, which I do, and would enjoy. I would not go to nationals for this. 
Obviously, this option opens up a whole ton more time for vacations and family time. 
Less time thinking about training camps and regattas in faraway places. 
Way more family time.

But if I’m here to speak my truth about this, I know which fork I would choose.

It would be the first.

My passion for involvement and growth in paracanoe is way up there. I know it means more sacrifice of free time. 
I know it means stress of making time for work, for training, and for family.
I know it still comes with uncertainty of maybe or maybe not making time standards and team spots. Life would be simplified without this sport.  

But I want it anyway.

I want it. Man, I want it.  

But right now though, I just want that decision, so I can choose a fork. So I can know which way this is all going to go, or at least, could go. One fork gives me options, the other, not so much.

It’s true what they say: waiting is the hardest part.

In the meantime, I’m just itchy as Hell to get on the water. Since we actually had snow and sub-zero temperatures for a few months this winter, here in Vancouver, our usual year-round paddling game was changed, and I haven’t been able to get out much even since the temperatures warmed up again. I'm still training in earnest, regardless of the decision coming my way!

So, keep your fingers crossed for me (hand amputee pun intended). All in all, I will continue to contribute off the water. It must be a sign of my age that in my roles as Canoe Kayak’s BC Athlete Representative, and Chair of the Canoe Kayak Canada Para Committee, I’m thoroughly enjoying myself. I’ll keep contributing in those avenues.


With any luck, the ICF will make a decent decision around upper limb impairment, and I’ll be able to keep contributing on the water, too.


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