Retiring

I really never thought I’d ever write a retirement letter; the 12 year old me was going to be racing canoes forever. But the 28 year old me knows it’s time to step back.

I first had the idea pop into my mind last year when I dislocated my shoulder but after thinking long and hard about it I thought getting fit again and maybe making the team again in C1 would be enough to keep the fire burning. When I failed to make the team in May I knew there and then that it would be my last race as a full-time athlete.

Canoeing has been and will continue (will talk about that in a bit) to be my life and I feel so privileged to have been able to do it for so long at such a high level. I didn’t win the medals I once set out to but I very much enjoyed the travelling, learnings, friendships, rivalry and sacrifices along the way.

There’s that word ‘sacrifice’ and a very wise man called Campbell Walsh once told me that they don’t feel like sacrifices when you’re fully engrossed in the sport, but only when they feel like sacrifices are they actually sacrifices, and that’s how it is. I know to be at an elite level you need to eat properly, sleep well, train smartly etc and now I’ve become a Dad I’m just not willing to make those anymore – and I’m really very satisfied with my paddling career, I have no regrets and that makes it a lot easier to move on.

So what’s next? Well, I’ve been away from the sport over the summer, working in London for Workshop Coffee and helping them open a new store in Shoreditch. But my heart has always been set on a return to canoe slalom as a coach, and I am due to start my new role coaching the Podium/Potential (U23) C1m and K1m in Lee Valley next week.

I owe a huge amount to lots of people who along the way have helped guide me and encourage me to improve me to become a better version of myself. I have tried to contact those individually and for those I haven’t managed I’ll catch you on the riverbank or over a drink sometime. But I’d like to say a special thanks to Stafford and Stone Canoe Club and all the coaches, paddlers and parents along the years who made it such a good club to be and still be a part of. Those Tuesday evening sessions in the ice were the best of my life. British Canoeing and all the faith you put in me over the years and continuing to do so with my new coaching role. My sponsors such as Zipvit Sport, Peakuk, Hydrasports, Galasport, Staffordshire County Council and the vital cog in the system the National Lottery. Mum & Dad thank you for helping me stick at it. And finally and most importantly to my ever-growing role model, my wife Michelle and my beautiful daughter Lucy - Thank you for being you.

Mark

 

Bla Bla Bla.

I’ve spent the last few days reading people’s social media posts about 2016 and what it was to them, whether it was good or bad and naturally I found myself pondering the same myself. What was 2016 and what is 2017 looking like for me?

I think I’ve changed because in the past I would have probably thought along the lines of “I can’t wait to see the back of 2016. I got to watch others race the Olympics and I dislocated my shoulder, what a sucker of a year”. But now I look back at the year that’s just finished with fresh eyes, eyes that saw a lot over the 12 months.

2016 was what it was. It helped shape me to be Mark Proctor in 2017 and it has given me an unbelievable amount of drive to crack on with life and just live it. Yeah yeah I hear you say, same old stuff just written differently. But really, 2016 played a blinder in helping me work out who I want to be. Whether that be in a sporting sense or in a totally different sense, in the sense of what I would like to be when I won’t be floating around in a canoe anymore (how long that is, who knows?). It has given me a huge amount of perspective and without the ‘downs’ of 2016 I can’t imagine myself being here.

But I intend to make 2017 an absolute hum dinger. What that actually means only I know. But I’ve just turned 28 and I’m only just beginning to understand myself. That’s crazy.

So now as I enter 2017 injury free (yep, as of the 23rd December) I feel a new lease of life. I’m refreshed and I intend to get stuck in everyday at whatever that might be.

Thank you for being there in 2016.

Please stick around for 2017, because what ever goes on over the next 12 months, it has to be something worth writing about every so often.

Mark

 

Well, it really has been a while since I’ve posted a blog or anything on my website.

First of all I hope you like the new look, it’s been something I’ve been playing around with and I’m pleased with the outcome.

This is going to be a long blog, so get yourself a brew and let’s get started. I’ll be touching on a few things. C2 retirement & Etienne, dislocated shoulder, C1 and the future.

C2 Retirement & Etienne

As it was announced recently you are probably well aware of Etienne’s retirement from the sport. Meaning I’m partner-less, but this was all part of the plan when we started C2 back in 2014. It was a two-year gig, a two-year contract if you like. In that time I needed to decide whether when the time came I’d either move on or return to C1. I’ll touch on that later.

So, it is sad that the Proctor/Stott journey has come to an end, but I’m so grateful for the experiences I had in C2. It was what I dreamed of and more. When we started we were very open about it all, we were more set up to fail than to succeed. We had just over a year to prepare for Olympic Selection, just 6 months to be ready for senior selection in March 2015, which was key to the Olympic selection process. But we gave it our absolute all, and if someone had said that we would make the final at the three major championships we entered then I’d have laughed out loud (lol). The absolute icing on the cake would have been going to the Olympics or medalling at the home Worlds in Lee Valley (we finished 6th), but the cake was tasted pretty sweet even without the icing on top.

So finally I’d like to say thank you for all the support on that journey, a big thank you to Etienne and the team behind us who were truly invaluable and without them we wouldn’t have experienced the things we did. You made the journey just as satisfying as the results. Thank you.

Dislocated Shoulder

On the 27th July I dislocated my left shoulder. I did it during a full runs session in C1, my first run and on the bottom drop on Lee Valley on the entry to the up-left.

I knew something was wrong when I was upside down and I couldn’t get my left arm to function probably in order to roll up. Luckily I had enough force in my right arm to get myself back upright (funny story – the day before I practiced single arm hand rolling). The next few seconds were mainly spent screaming and getting myself to the side. I was lucky enough to have people on the bank who were willing to get wet and jump in (thanks Ryan Westley) and coaches on the bank to help me get to the side (Gareth Wilson and Marc Domenjo). After reaching the side and shouting at Ryan to put my shoulder back in (he wouldn’t, he’s not a doctor), I eventually pulled myself to the side and pop, it went back in. In my mind I was then thinking, did I actually dislocate it? Maybe I’ll just take the afternoon off and I’ll get back on it tomorrow. Then the pain kicked in.

The rest of the day was spent getting doctor's opinions and later on an MRI scan. All confirming I’d torn my labrum and I’d need to be operated on. Damn.

Can you remember what you were doing the day Joe Clarke won Gold in Rio? The 10th August to be precise. That was my operation day. I had my shoulder sewn together in two places on the labrum and watched Joe win Gold an hour later.

Over 10 weeks later and I’m making progress. I’m still a few weeks off getting back in a canoe and it’s been full of ups and downs. I’m lucky enough to have had a pretty good mentor in the art of dislocated shoulders in Etienne but you also have to do things in your own way, picking up different tips from different people/paddlers and putting them all into one pot and using them when you deem necessary.

The thing is, that day I dislocated my shoulder the world as I knew it changed in an instant. It was like jumping off a train and the train just kept going (paddlers training). It’s been hard watching others come in from training buzzing, but that’s only because I just wish I was joining them. Not jealous of an individual, just of the fact they get to feel water under their feet. We become attached to our sensations and I miss that sensation every day.

What’s next?

Up until the point of injuring my shoulder I was flying in the boat, really enjoying it and producing some good times against some world-class paddlers. So I made up my mind really early on that my plan would be to return to C1 paddling post C2.

That hasn’t changed. The injury has made me more determined. More focused.

It could be a pretty cool story after all………and I love a good story.

Thank You

The scenery of my world has changed both on and off the water. As is the norm at the end of Olympic cycles staff choose to stick around for another or move on. It’s never really been to the determent to me in the past because they’ve always stuck around. But this year a big part of my surroundings will be changing. My crew mate Etienne, psychologist Katie Warriner, Physio Kath Edwards and Strength and Conditioning coach Leigh Williams have all decided to leave the sport. So just the 4 out of the 6 closest people to my paddling…. Just me and coach Gaz left. That’s some void to fill. I’ll miss them very much, they added something and made me feel like part of a very important family, it made canoeing fun and they all inspired me everyday both on and off the water.

Right… best go stretch this shoulder.

I hope you enjoyed the blog.

Mark

Has Bean – Bolivia

Farm – Finca El Fuerte

Process – Washed

V60

I used 11grams of the bean, coarsely grinded with a total weight of 176grams, taking 3 minutes to complete the process. The end result being a smooth finish with the strong hint of dark chocolate. Would give it a personal opinion of 6/10

Espresso

15grams – 28 seconds with a total amount of 30 grams. Lovely finish, really brining out the lemon rind and watermelon acidity. 8/10

Flat White

Slightly quicker espresso so it’s more of a ristretto, totaling 28 grams but over around 20-22 seconds. Adding microfoam to a 6oz cup. The milk adding to the sweet espresso makes for a really exciting cup. My personal preference for the bean. Lovely and sweet on the pallet. A must have for those who have a sweet tooth. 9.5/10.

Has Bean.

As many can tell from my social media outlets, I’m pretty big into my coffee. Along with my support from Acaia. I have recently signed up to Has Bean for the next twelve months. As you can imagine, I’m pretty stoked by this.

Has Bean know everything you need to know about coffee: Brewing methods, roasting beans and sourcing. Their website is a brilliant tool for people who are getting stuck when making the perfect brew, whether that be an espresso, filter, or what ever method you use.

Along with getting to taste some exciting coffee each month, I’ll also be writing my opinion on each bag which will help me understand my coffee’s to a higher degree and help me in the long run, which post paddling is my dream of one day opening my own coffee shop.

So if you’re into coffee, I hope you enjoy my monthly write ups, if you’re not, then simply click on the video links and enjoy them instead☺.

Past, present and future plans.

Round about now, the British Canoeing Senior Team will be arriving in Ivrea, Italy for the first of a three-week world cup tour. Heading to Spain and France for the following two. But I won’t be there. Last week Etienne wrote this blog explaining our reasons for not participating.

I’ve not really spoken to many people about their opinion on the matter. C2 is tough; C2 without a target is even tougher. We’d missed the Olympics’ last October so the winter was already difficult even before the winter had begun. There’ll be no C2 class in Tokyo 2020 so there wasn’t even the mindset of setting out a new four-year plan, which the other athletes in different classes can.

What does matter to me is Etienne’s happiness, it sounds soft but this is well above canoeing down a river. Happiness can be found canoeing down a river, but if everything else is no longer aligned, which in Etienne’s case it wasn’t, then something needed to give. So I’m sound with the decision, it wasn’t just Etienne pulling the strings. It sat well straight away with me when he suggested it.

Our season was all about the European’s and ensuring we are fit if called upon as Olympic reserves. This break ensured we could do both and not self-explode before the reserve cut off point arrives.

We came to the decision quite some time ago, and since that moment we trained well, communicated well, enjoyed our paddling and raced particularly well. We matched some of the World’s best crews at the European Championships the other week and I couldn’t be prouder to have made another final and experience that final feeling again with Etienne, potentially for one last time. It’s given me so much to be thankful to Etienne for.

With Etienne going away it have given me the opportunity to return to C1 canoeing and transfer what I’ve learnt in C2 over the last two years. I’ve been doing the odd bit here and there over the last six months but once we knew the European Championships would be our last international race I fully committed to our C2 to give us the best chance of competing well in Slovakia. That was justified with an 8th place finish. The runs can be found on our Facebook page @c2proctorstott.

Last weekend marked my first C1 race in nearly 2 years. My first full run, without Etienne giving it the beans in the back. My job was to get myself a wildcard for next years selection series. I didn’t really know what to expect. I just wanted to do my best but I knew deep down I had expectations. I never imagined I’d be the quickest boat on the harder course on the Saturday and eventually end up third on the Sunday behind two pretty decent boats.

So now I’ve given myself time, an extra winters training effectively with the added twist of some more C2 paddling. Happy days. The hard works begins again and I’m proper buzzing.

I’m at peace with what’s been, what’s going on and what’s coming my way.

A thanks as always goes to Zipvit Sport, UK Sport, British Canoeing and all those who have helped me so far along the way.

A Thanks To Coffee Italia.

Last week I received something pretty cool. It wasn’t anything canoeing related, but it makes me happy and therefore can only benefit my paddling.

I would like to thank Coffee Italia for helping me out with a Mazzer Mini coffee grinder.

Being a professional athlete in a sport which doesn’t give out huge amounts of money means items like this are normally not on the cards until post paddling! So a big thank you.

Next up is a trip to Rio on Thursday, looking forward to being in the sun again!

Mark

Al Ain Training Camp.

I’ve recently returned home from a two-week training camp in Al Ain, part of the UAE.

As always, the weather conditions were ideal and the environment to train in was perfect. I spent the two weeks sleeping well, training well and eating well. The only disappointing thing being they didn’t have any decent coffee shops nearby!

But I’m glad to be home, I found it particularly grueling. The focus of the camp for Etienne and me was to get some good miles in the C2, trying to get back to the standard we were at before Etienne went away in November. Which we did, but it left me exhausted come the end of the camp. But still, who said you got good at something by tip-toeing around hard work?

We did get a day off while we were out there though, and the majority of us made the most of it with a visit to Yas Waterpark in Abu Dhabi. It was great to be with the team again and this day off at the waterpark made me realise how lucky I am to spend time with these people on a daily basis.

Now I’m home, up at 5 with a mild case of jet lag and enjoying a few days off before resuming training later on in the week. We then have the next four weeks at home before heading off to Rio for a training camp, which again should be both hard work and good fun.

Mark

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

2015 is nearly over, the dust has settled from the racing season and preparation for 2016 is well underway.

Over the last 2 months since selection I have mainly been training, planning and working. Training on getting better at canoeing, planning to ensure 2016 goes the way I want it to go and working with Three in a Digital Site Building role which was developed for athletes like myself. I’m really enjoying it and finding out a lot about the ‘real world’ and myself.

I’ve also just got back from a skiing holiday in France. Which was a perfect way to end the year, away in the mountains, eating lovely food and skiing all day long.

I’d like to take this article to thank everyone for his or her support over 2015, for me it was a very successful and pleasurable year, one which I’m much stronger and smarter for. Although I didn’t meet my dream goal of getting to Rio, I did get closer than 2012 and I think I actually ‘get’ canoeing now and what it means to be a professional athlete. This wouldn’t have been achieved without lots of people but of course the stand out person would be Etienne.

Etienne is currently away travelling with his wife, he returns at the beginning of Jan, where we have a plan in place to get raring to go for the 2016 season. Starting off with a trip to the UAE and Wadi adventures in mid Jan and for being Olympic reserves we have a trip to Rio in March, which should be cool!

A big thanks to all my sponsors who have stuck by me, especially ZipVit sport who’s unwavering support has meant a great deal to me. It’s also great to have Acaia onboard for the first time, who have provided me with one of their Lunar scales. But all of this wouldn’t be possible without the support of the National Lottery, without them, I and canoeing would be no-where. So keep buying your lottery tickets folks, you’re helping make dreams come true. And who knows, maybe the next Lottery ticket will be the winning one.

Have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Mark

#TheBumpyRoadToOlympicSelection

It’s easy to write when you’re telling a positive story, yet you’re more likely to read an article when it is about someone who has experienced or is experiencing a tough break. Think of the news you watch everyday, 90% of the time it’s bad news. So rather than me write something to ice over the cracks, I’d rather give my account of the last few weeks in full. Why would I do that? Because I believe I’m not the only one who will have experienced things like I have or something relatively similar. So this is an account I hope people can relate to. It doesn’t have to be in a sporting sense, just whatever way it fits into your life. It is also a way of helping me to thank my team in a public way.

I’m lucky and have a brilliant team behind me, consisting of five people who I’d run through brick walls for. Without them, the last few weeks could have been pretty rough, instead they were both enlightening and a brilliant learning experience.

I will admit I’ve been pretty slow at getting this article out there and probably missed the boat, but to be frank, I didn’t think I was thinking clearly enough about what I wanted to write. Everyone knows the result, so I didn’t need to ‘clarify’ that.

So I’ve decided to break it up into 3 sections. Build Up, During and Post Race.

Build Up

After enjoying finishing 6th at the World Championships, we were both rocked on the Tuesday post Worlds to find out that Etienne had torn a hole in his side, yep, a hole. That made the Worlds result even more impressive, especially under the circumstances. Yet as time went on, we’d come to learn that the Worlds result, or the result of another crew had left us with a mountain to climb. 1 position, 1.20 seconds that meant we needed to win every race come Olympic selection. Challenge accepted.

Once the news had settled in and the understanding that such an injury can take between 6-8 weeks recovery when complete rest is undertaken, we got together to try and see how to crack on, doing the best we could to just make it onto the start line of Olympic selection.

We simply didn’t have the time, but we did have a selection policy that allowed for such a thing to be taken into consideration. We’d made the criteria to apply for this on two accounts, 5th at the Europeans and 6th at the World Championships.

A week or so of numerous meetings and a physical examination which confirmed the injury status of Etienne, we came away with the outcome that the request had been rejected by the International Panel.

I’ll be honest and say I was pretty disappointed with the outcome. Anyone in our position would have been if they were in our shoes. But looking back now, it is quite possibly one of the most enlightening moments of my career. Instead of hiding and feeling downbeat, we grouped together, pushed on and worked even harder on the mental side of our game. We couldn’t paddle much so we had to do things differently. We did video sessions on certain moves, talked through scenarios over and over. We refused to allow this setback to dampen our spirits and what this crew is about. We knew we had so much to be proud of and still had an amazing opportunity to make the most of each day and each moment.

Selection was just over a week away and we managed our first two-session day since the beginning of September, better late then never! Our first full-run would have to wait until the race itself!

But I believe we’d never been more focused as a crew. The only thing missing was the training block behind us.

The Race

The race arrived, the first course looked decent and we had our plan. Both runs were nearly there, just losing time on the second to last breakout on the second run costing us a win and essentially to keep Olympic Selection running. But it wasn’t to be. Olympic selection was done for another 4 years (maybe nearly 5 years).

The quality of racing on the first day wasn’t as tidy as I was expecting and looking back now it was for the taking.

The Sunday and Monday’s racing was fiercely contested between Lister/ Davies and us. The result ending with me and Etienne being named Olympic reserve boat.

Post race

I look back at the last 8 weeks as a whole. I’m a firm believer in you have to take everything very seriously if you want to get better at it. You don’t just turn up to a race and think ‘right, I’m racing now, best take this seriously’. If that’s the approach then how can you expect to be consistent at racing? You can’t. It’s about the build up and the race itself, both of which need to be finely planned out, along with well reviewed.

So looking back I’ve written my notes, evaluated the experience and I can’t find any faults with how we did. How can you say an injury is a fault? It’s merely a thing that happens to everyone, unfortunately it happened to us at a bad time but we dealt with it in the best way we could.

But… and here’s the but. Living that experience with the attitude we chose to adopt, and also the experience at the World Championships made us stronger. It helped us experience some crazy things. We lived them, explored them and thought clearly in those moments. We had to, well we didn’t actually, we chose to.

So I sit here writing this article on a coldish morning in the middle of November, feeling at peace with what’s been, and also with what will come. The time between racing selection and now has left me truly satisfied that my focus over the last year has always been in the right areas, I’ve judged the way I go about things well and have had a very good balance. Of course I’d like to be jetting off to Rio over the winter months (we do go once for a training camp as Olympic reserve). But I’m happy and content.

This is the time of year when we’ve all normally finished our first heavy block of winter training. Instead, we have time off, to spend with those we cherish and doing things we enjoy. Gather our thoughts and come back in a week or two to formulate a plan going forward.

I can confirm we will be racing the European Championships next year and the World Cup races. We’re keen to see how much better we can be, because at the end of the day, we only started training as a crew 14 months ago. Mental.

 

 

 

It’s the morning after the Worlds. I’ve been here before (4x actually), felt a mixture of both disappointment and emptiness before, but this time it’s different. I’d like to say it would be the same no matter what the outcome was for Etienne and me but that’s impossible to predict, the man in me says I would, but I whole-heartedly believe I would find it hard. The Worlds are what we, as athletes, work towards each year (apart from Olympic years): they are kind of a big deal!

So I think that would explain how you could feel empty, because it’s a sense of ‘that’s it’, season done. But we have our Olympic selection in 5 weeks time.  Talk about taking a breather after a good event, soaking it up, enjoying the moment, nooooo, none of that. It’s back to hard work, refocusing and that continued push for getting better at canoe slalom.

You win some you lose some. We’ve had a brilliant debut season, we’ve made two championship finals, finishing 5th at the Europeans and 6th at our home Worlds over the weekend. It’s magical really. But we’ve worked hard for it and will continue to work hard.

I look back now and it was a crazy week. Etienne picked up an injury paddling on the Saturday afternoon prior to the race (something we didn’t speak publicly about until it became obvious on race day).  He’ll speak more in-depth about it over on his blog but speaking honestly, in that moment we thought it was serious and that was it. Pack our bags, go home and enjoy watching the Worlds from the bank, it was over.

But that idea was shot down by our physio Kath, insisting she’d get us on the start line. I’d never really had this experience before; here I was in tiptop shape, mentally and physically, yet my back man was in agony and unable to even turn the boat (a pretty crucial part of canoe slalom).  I had the idea that if we could just make the Tuesday morning session we’d be OKAY, but come Tuesday morning we could only paddle in a straight line, turning was a no go.

Demo runs arrived on Tuesday evening, I’d gone through all the scenarios in my head a hundred times, but one which came into my mind once I’d seen the heats course was ‘lets get through heats, we’ve got another two days to get Etienne fit and we’ll see what we can do come Saturday’. Then came Wednesday and our pre warm up, still no turning, easy straight-line stuff. We broke down as a crew.

We went about the next two hours like we were competing. Decided to cut the warm up down before our run because the pain would be too great for Etienne,  hoping, praying we could just compete. We got in the boat, made the call probably 5-10 minutes before the run we’d give it a go, we just had to know for sure, we talked about the possibility of having to stop half way. That’s crazy talk looking back. Anyway, we did the run, grafted hard and finished 8th. Probably the most important run of my career, the learning, the pressure, everything. We went to places I don’t think any other crews have had to go. Imagine being at your home Worlds, on a course you’d put months and months of training into to not even make it on the start line.  We had that and we made it through. I’ll be forever proud of Etienne for pushing on through what must have been unbearable pain to get us down the course. What a guy.

Behind the scenes since the Monday/Tuesday I’d been thinking of ways to help me get excited about the Thursday morning no matter what happened on the Wednesday, so I got home after heats and booked a train to Liverpool, we had two days off, we couldn’t train so I decided with my team that I should get away and grab some much needed headspace. So I did, I went up in the morning, sat by the Mersey, read some book and visited a lovely coffee shop. I came back down on the train all fired up ready to attack Saturday.

Saturday felt like it was going to be a good day right from the off. If we could survive Wednesday then we could take anything on. The course looked trickier but when you train on Lee Valley daily you know that a much harder course could have been set. We had a good plan, we still had to cut our warm up down so that Etienne could manage his pain but we knew this time we’d be racing and that helped us. Our semis run was good, sticky in places but reasonably sound. We ended up third.

We knew we had time to squeeze for the final and that anything can happen on Lee Valley (as all the finals showed). It was about sticking to our plan.

The run felt good, the crowd really lifting me at the final sprint. At the finish I put my hand over my face in what looks like disappointment, it was more out of shock, I thought we’d gone much faster and the shock was the fact we’d gone slower. Looking back you can see the time slipping away at gate 3 and between the final two gates. It ended up being good enough for sixth place.

So it was a good race for us, picking up a bronze medal in the team event was icing on top of it all. We pushed ourselves close to the edge and came out the other side knowing we’d left everything out there. We can be very proud of that and it’s a day I’ll have in the front of my mind for a long time to come.

Now onto Olympic selection in five weeks time.

 

 

 

What a wicked twelve months it’s been. Twelve months of brutally hard, but enjoyable work. I now consider myself a C2 paddler, which twelve months ago would have seemed a lifetime away. 

I’m not going to get too soppy here about what’s been, if you follow canoe slalom you’ll know what we’ve done in such a short period of time.  It has been class.

Mid Season Review

When we planned the season back out in December/January time, we needed to work out which races we’d focus on and ultimately, what would give us the best chance of turning out at our home Worlds in September in the best possible shape (physically, mentally and technically).

So we chose to race the Europeans (no brainer, plenty of water time and it counts towards funding), Prague World Cup and La Séu World Cup along with, of course, the World Championships in London. So as we have done two out of the four, and with me being a happy-to-type whatever nonsense I feel like I figured it would be a good idea to write a mid-season review.

Should I write it like a school report? Should I write it like a mid season review on BBC Sport? I’m just having fun here.  Sorry for rambling.

So here is my review.

We came out of the blocks well at the Europeans in Germany, finishing 5th. This was a blooming great achievement for us; it showed us how far we’d come against some of the best C2 paddlers around. But it showed us most importantly that we are doing the right things, we are forming a team that can perform at the highest level under high pressure. 

If Leipzig was a grade A, Prague was more of a C, paddling well in heats but two touches, one being a technical error leading us to miss out on the final. It showed us we have the pace, so the Europeans was no fluke, but also we can’t ever get comfortable, we keep pushing on, keep getting better and keep getting faster.

So all-in-all, I’d say the first half of the international season has been to the standard of a B+.

Sorry for taking so long at getting this out there, I have no excuses, not one.

MP

 

 

 

I am delighted to announce that at the weekend Etienne and me confirmed our place on the 2015 Great Britain Senior Team. This is a big step in our aim of reaching the 2016 Olympics.

We knew racing would be tough when all five crews who were racing for selection had the potential of winning any of the races.

We were lucky enough to gain selection after two races (best 2 out of 3 counting) by finishing second in the first two races.

We now have a busy summer of racing and training, concluding with the home World Championships in London at the back end of September.

I would also like to congratulate every competitor who raced over the weekend, whether you made the team or not. The quality on show was impressive and it can only be a good thing for British canoe slalom.

Mark.

 

 

 

I’ve not posted anything on my website or Facebook page for quite some time now. The reason? Well apart from training like a ‘insert some kind of beast-like creature here’, I’ve not really known what the future looked like for me in canoeing. So here is me opening up and informing you guys about what’s going on in the world of Mark Proctor.

Firstly I’d like to address the elephant in the room, which is that I won’t be carrying on in C1 over the next 12 months. My focus is purely on C2. 

When I got back into training over the summer and started up C2 I never considered the fact I might drop C1. But after putting in some serious training and racing time in C2 it became very clear to me that Etienne and I have something good going on in C2 and that I’d like to really give it my full attention going forward.

It’s not that I won’t miss C1 canoeing, as I blooming love it! I don’t know what the future holds after next season or the following but right now that is in the back of my mind. I might return to C1 after 2016, I might not. I don’t need to make that decision right now. In the meantime I will enjoy the opportunity of jumping in a C1 now and then and keep it ticking over, just in case.

So, apart from the press release and the short snippets on our joint Facebook page I’ve not really written about C2. So here is my opinion on it all:

When Etienne asked me to give C2 a go I was both excited and apprehensive. C2 is a physical monkey; it’s also not C1 in the terms of technique. But when you get asked something like you can’t turn it away can you?  I didn’t feel like I was being asked by an Olympic Champion which others have asked, I was being asked by a guy who I genuinely like as a person, I wouldn’t have taken this step with someone I couldn’t get along with. So to me it was an absolute no-brainer. I do feel like I’m stepping into some big shoes after Tim, but then seeing their journey at such close proximity I knew I wanted some of that.

We are now a few months down the line in our project and my body is slowly starting to adapt to C2 canoeing and the physical demands it asks, we have a coach in Gareth Wilson and Etienne has moved down to London so we can train daily on Lee Valley. We’ve also raced 4 domestic races, winning 3 and finishing 3rd in another.  So it’s all very productive.

I’m buzzing about this journey and I’d like to thank my sponsors (Zipvit, GB Canoeing, Peakuk and Galasport) for all their support over a somewhat different year!

If you would like to know more then please get in touch, or simply visit our Facebook page.

Mark.

 

 

 

Been pretty slow putting this up.

A few weeks back I participated in two world cup races in Europe, these were given to me due to others deciding they didn’t want them so they got handed to myself.

After only starting back training 3 weeks before (due to having a break post selection and working) I didn’t really go into them feeling at my best, both mentally or physically, especially physically.

The first race was in Tacen, Slovenia. The course is probably the hardest course out there, due to inconsistences in the water and it’s notoriously hard top drop. Training went well in the week apart from breaking the tail of my boat so I felt ready to race. Unfortunately I didn’t make it past the first hurdle and with two poor runs I finished 31st and failed to make the semi final by one place. Was I surprised? Not really.

A quick flight home and one night in my own bed and I was back at Stansted and flying out to Prague for the next world cup.

In the week I trained with a new group, being coached by Gaz Wilson and having training partners in Greg Pitt and Adam Burgess. I loved it. It was relaxing and highly enjoyable, yet focused.

By the time the race came around I felt I had Tacen completely out my system and I have always enjoyed racing at Prague, it’s got a good vibe. In qualification I ended up 25th with some respectable runs on a very fast course, the top 30 were separated by the smallest of margins.

In the semi final I fancied my chances, the course was tighter and I felt a big weight off my shoulders, not sure why, just did. I went hard over the run but a time loss of around 3.5 seconds on the final upstream made me think that I’d blown a decent result. I went into 2nd and one by one people kept going behind me. I finished the semi final in 10th and surprisingly made the final! Happy days.

I’ll admit I couldn’t believe it, I wasn’t where I would normally be physically but I knew this and my coaches knew this. I nearly didn’t accept the races due to not being in training and not being ready to return to training after the disastrous selection series. So to make the final I was over the moon.

I was super hungry for it in the final, I went off hard and maybe felt some final fever, although it didn’t feel like that, I just felt I was never quite on line. Necking a gate too much at the top and knowing I’d picked up a 50 second penalty.

I finished 10th.

After I crossed the finish line I gave out two symbols, I’d like to clear them up… I first of all gave out the ‘50’ gesture and then the M symbol, the M being for my wife Michelle and not the heart many people thought I did (I’m not Gareth Bale). But back to the ‘50’ symbol, at the after race party a few folk mentioned I was being a good sportsman because when I crossed the finish line my 50 second penalty had yet to be added to my total time. I admit I knew it was a 50, but cheesy the ‘50’ symbol was actually a ‘5’ symbol for five European Cups and Liverpool FC.

 

 

 

I can normally write at any given moment, but it’s taken me nearly 6 weeks to actually sit down and want to write this article.

Selection took place on the last weekend of March and it went badly from a personal view.  I knew going into it that it was going to be a tough weekend of racing but tried to put that to the back of my mind and get on with the job in hand. Over the last six weeks I’ve been pretty shy about talking about what went on, it’s tough, it’s like a bad dream which you think will end. But it didn’t.

Getting ill was the straw that broke the camels back. I returned to training too soon but with selection only being two weeks away who wouldn’t? I had to fit a 4-week taper (which has served me well for the last 5 years) into about 10 days, I had to get my full length fitness up. I didn’t.  I could see it coming from the physical work I was producing, I was fresh and hitting the short stuff well, but as soon as it got longer, about 30 seconds, I really was struggling. But in my head I accepted it wasn’t ideal and figured I’d get through selection and get fit and strong after in the lead into the Europeans. Well now I’ve got all the time in the world to get fit and strong because I failed to make the team.

Learning

I’ve always thought the saying  ‘You learn more from defeat than in any victory’ was a cliché. But never has that quote been more fitting. I’ve had to learn who Mark Proctor is without being on the team. Learn to live with not getting up every morning with a set goal in training. Learning to step back and enjoy a late night out with friends and family without feeling the guilt of thinking it could affect my training the following week. Learning to find other things to fill my time apart from training. The list goes on.

I have no doubt that if I were fighting fit at selection I would have made the team. No doubt what so ever. But it’s gone now; I have to move on, I have moved on. Sure, when the main races over the summer are going on I will feel a sense of sadness for not being there and part of it, but I will also be in a good place.

Moving on

When I stood in the shower after the final race I had all these crazy feelings. One of retiring there and then, it wasn’t worth the pain anymore.

But as time has gone by and I look back over the winter I had, I realise how well I was paddling, then when I look at me over selection I can see how out of shape I was physically. It gives me hope going forward but also a real big kick in the balls. What could have been and all that….

The week after selection I went away to the South of France with Michelle. I was exhausted from the weeks gone by and I literally spent the whole week recovering with lots of sleeping and eating ice creams! My body was in a bad state and was telling me it needed to take a breather.

At the end of a storm is a golden sky

I’m now in a position to return to training and this week is the first time I’ve paddled on the Olympic course since selection.  It was good to be back.

I haven’t set any targets as such, I intend to make the most of the summer and do as much boating in the sun as possible. I have a few off water challenges that I’m taking on, such as 10k runs and Aquathlon’s at Lee Valley.

I also have a few more things on the horizon but will talk about those at a later date.

Special mentions

You learn a lot in times like this. For one it’s only sport, it doesn’t really make the world go round; it’s something that’s meant to be enjoyed.

My love for the sport and also GB Canoeing has never wavered in this period.

I’d like to say a massive thank you to the close friends and colleagues who have sent texts, emails etc. over the past few weeks. Winning or losing you have always been there for me. You know who you are.

Zipvit Sport & Galasport – It can be hard to find loyalty in sport. I am lucky to have found this through my sponsors and I would like to give a special mention to them as they have both been extremely supportive and understanding towards me.

Thank you.

 

 

Yesterday was the first race of the 2014 season for myself. I decided against going up to Scotland last weekend for the first two races due to the time away from London and as it turned out I was a sick lad anyway.

It was good to get back on Nottingham for a session on Friday, as I hadn’t been on it for a long time. The course changes are super good fun, so I enjoyed that session. The race itself went okay, two clean runs and fairly solid paddling left me finishing the day in second place behind Thomas Quinn who put a stonker of a second run down.

Since my last website update I’ve had a pretty torrid time. I knew post Al Ain that I usually get ill in March, I did last year and I did the year before, both times taking a week or so to get it out of my system. So the plan post Al Ain was a recovery week, a really big recovery week, hardly train at all, hoping to not become vulnerable to illness. That didn’t work, by the Friday of that week I was down with a fever and didn’t leave the sofa for the next 9 days, I then got back in a boat early and got a kick back and I’m now finally feeling on top of it. Starting to feel better each day. But unfortunately this has meant I’ve missed some fairly important sessions and all of a sudden full runs just feel absolutely horrendous.

The plan now is to just get healthy.

 

 

I have just got back from a second training camp in Al Ain, UAE. That means this winter I spent 5 weeks in the desert.

This time around it was slightly different approach on the water compared to pre Christmas. But just like December, it was a fantastic training camp.

This seems a rather small article, as I don’t really have anything ‘interesting’ to report, I’ve just been training, training and training.  I did manage to break the training camp up with a short break in Dubai, which was good.

Next up is selection in 4 ½ week’s time. Looking forward to it.

 

For the last two weeks I have been in Al Ain, UAE for some warm weather training.

It was my first time out there and it was a very productive training camp, blasting out 12 days of training. Returning home for Christmas very happy with the work put in.

The course itself is a work-in-progress but it’s definitely a place I see myself returning to.  A very long course with some very fast sections and also some good paddle back sections at the top. Just the gate system needs improving and then it will be tip-top.

I have added a short video of the training camp to the video page.

 

Since the World Championships back at the start of September I have been fairly busy.

The first thing I did was put my canoe away. I made the decision not to get back in until I actually wanted to. 6 days Campbell Walsh asked me to go paddling with him, so I did!

But mainly in the time since the Worlds I have been working (proper work) and getting ready for winter training by doing lots of gym sessions and other non boat related fitness sessions.

I have competed in 3 domestic races since Prague. Winning one (Cardiff) and finishing 2nd in the other two (Nottingham & Lee Valley). It was good to be back on the start line and I used them to carry on learning about myself on race days, something I don’t normally do after the major races, as I can’t get myself psyched for them.

But of course I have had some fun by eating nice food and by taking a few trips up to Merseyside to watch the footie. The kind of things I miss when in the deep depths of training and racing.

Now it’s time to getting cracking and see what gains I can make over the closed season.

 

 

At the weekend the 2013 World Championships took place in Prague, Czech Republic. And for me it went pretty badly.

After putting down some pretty sweet runs in heats to finish second I went into the semis full of confidence. With the course again (like heats) being fairly technical I knew mistakes would be made.  Just didn’t think I’d be the one making them!

All in all this year has been a strange one. Making massive gains in the boat but not having any decent results to show for it. In Krakow at the Europeans I was in super good shape, but failed to deliver. At the Cardiff world cup I was on a medal winning run until the 2nd to last gate. Now at the World Champs, I arrived in the best physical and mental shape I’ve ever been. Racing to win, having no fear and not having any worries about anything apart from racing quickly.

Now it’s time for a break, work out why it went wrong (again). Not sure what this all will mean for my future plans, time will tell.  I still enjoy my paddling and feel I’ve got so much more to give.  We’ll see.

Thanks for the support in 2013.

 

 

 

 

It has been quite a few weeks since I last wrote a website article.  An awful lot has happened between then and now, I’ll try and shorten it for you.

After Cardiff  World Cup I headed off to Seu for World Cup 3, that didn’t go to plan and then the week following I went on holiday to wind down and get ready for the second half of the season.

Following my rather familiar up/down season it was time to get a plan together to regroup and head to the worlds in the best shape mentally and physically possible.  We decided to drop a world cup in Tacen for the reason it made more sense to get a heavy weeks training in than only training once a day.

I have been in Prague for 3 of the last 6 weeks. For once I’m beginning to feel at home on Prague, something I’ve never really felt.

And this brings me onto my new boat.  Due to the ICF changing the rules this year to allow boats to be as light at 8kg (was 10) I felt it made sense to order a new boat for the Worlds, as my previous boat was weighing over 9kg. Having planned my boat to arrive in Prague on the training I was meant to be already using it by now. As it turned out Galasport have been incredibly busy and I only got my hands on it a few days before we left. They also didn’t have time to fit the boat out for me, so this left me with a slight dilemma. Do I take my new boat on a plane and fit it out at home or do I forget my new boat and paddle my heavier one at the worlds? Questions.

In the end I decided to fly back with my new boat. This got put on the wrong flight and after a weekend of hassling EasyJet to find the location of my boat I finally found out it was in Bristol. So yesterday was spent driving over to Bristol super early to pick up my boat, rush home and spend the following 5 hours fitting it out.  I’m shattered.

Twitter…. After struggling to get answers off anyone who I rang to find the location of my boat, I decided on Saturday to tweet about it, linking EasyJet into the tweet. Some journalists from the Guardian re-tweeted it, some from BBC and within minutes I had someone contacting me from EasyJet helping me track the boat and arranging to get it picked up. So for all the people out there who think twitter is nonsense: sure you get some fools writing the wrong things, but in this instance it helped me out massively.

Now onto the worlds and to freshening up.

 

 

 

What a brilliant week last week was.

After a disappointing European championship at the start of the month it was time to move on and get back on the road again. Cardiff world cup couldn’t come soon enough.

I knew going to Cardiff that I needed to pick myself back up, the only way that would happen would be by racing well and coming away with a decent result.

Throughout the weeks training I had a good feeling on the water, so when racing came around I couldn’t wait to get started.

I finished heats in 7th place with some good paddling, each run being pretty good but with time in it.

Going into semis (the same day as heats) I was confident I could replicate my top ten form from heats in the semis. I did that, finishing in 9th and booking my place into the final.

Finals took pace on Saturday morning and you can see my run below. A mistake at the bottom certainly costing me a medal, maybe even the win.  I ended up 7th.

That was nearly the perfect pick-me-up after the Euros.

Cardiff World Cup Final Run from Mark Proctor on Vimeo.

 

 

 

 

Today was a tough day in the office. I’m sure my annoyance/disappointment will come out in the next few paragraphs.

After a few days of uncertainty regarding whether there would actually be a race and a change in program, the 2013 European championships finally started today.

With the format being changed to just a straight semis it meant no room for a throw away run, like in heats.

My semis final run was pretty good for 80% of it, the top half being up there with the best. But a tight stagger sequence at 16,17,18 left me with six seconds of penalties and no chance of progressing through to the final, that along with a wrong choice on another move left me down in 16th place.

I’m now struggling to feel upbeat about anything, my pace over the last 6 weeks has been something of which I’m very proud of, but now it leaves me once again asking the question of delivering what I’m capable of at a major championships.

 

 

 

 

Last Sunday the Great Britain senior team flew out to Krakow, Poland for the European championships that take place next weekend (7th-9th June).

I’ve now finished a good solid weeks training on the course. And it seems to be coming together all at the right time.  At first it did take some time to adjust to the moveable water as one minute there’s plenty of space under the pole, the next, none.

The course has changed a fair amount since my last visit here 5 years ago with them shortening the course somewhat and making it more of a technical demanding course rather than that of a physical nature.

Now it is time to start filling the endless hours in the day, as training will now be minimal in order to freshen up for next weekend.

 

 

 

It’s less than a week before I leave for the European Championships, so that means (hopefully) it’s less than a week before I need to use some summer kit.

My new top deck from Peakuk arrived this morning and it’s a beauty.  When I designed it the other week I wanted to make it unique to me, not just a top deck, I wanted it to be more than that.

As you all know, I’m a big Liverpool fan. But how do you try and design a piece of canoeing kit to replicate that of football team? I needed to incorporate my sponsors into the kit. But the most important part of the cag is the logo below my neck on the back. Two flames with the number 96 between. This symbol represents the 96 fans that died in an avoidable tragedy while attending a football match 24 years ago.

I would like to thank Peakuk for making this happen.

 

 

Since selection two weeks ago I have been getting back into training. In the past I’ve felt I needed a break after the selection series, but this year I felt I didn’t. To be honest, I had my eye on Euros since the second race in Nottingham.

At the weekend I was back up in Nottingham for a domestic Premier race and a English Pan Celtic race on the Sunday.

On Saturday both my runs were good enough to win, both of them clean and both of them with huge quality in them. I was happy with that. Sunday being the same, except on my first run I hit two gates and was made to work for it on second runs.  So I drove back home with 2 wins out of 2. A good weekend at the races.

Next up is the Senior Europeans in 4 weeks time.

 

 

 

The Great Britain canoe slalom selection series has now finished.

I am happy to announce I successfully made the team for my sixth year, something I’m very proud of.

I raced well over the four race series and I’m now looking forward to the senior Europeans in 5 weeks time.

Thanks to all my sponsors and team for getting me in the right place for the selection period. Without you, I'd be nowhere.

 

 

 

 

The first two selection races have been and gone. On Saturday I finished third and Sunday I came away with the win.

Not really sure what to write really… selection hasn’t concluded yet, as this year, like never before, the series is a four race one, with best three results counting. In the past it was best two out of three. The first two races were held in Nottingham and the second two will be at the 2012 Olympic venue in Lee Valley, London.

At the start of the winter I sat down with my coach and some other very important people and outlined how important it was to be in good shape at the first two races in Nottingham. The U23 boys have been rapid there in the previous years so I didn’t want to take anything for granted there.

My paddling in the past 4-5 weeks has been to me, the best in my career. Hitting numbers I’ve never hit before and showing gains in the areas I highlighted at the start of winter training

On Saturday I finished third, under a second off the win, but I made a costly error on the last gate, completing a extra 360 spin on the way to the finish, so for me to be that close to winning with such an error it showed me my pace was there.

Sunday came with some challenging conditions. Semis came and went with no real drama, just making sure I did the job to progress to the finals. In the final I made a 2-3 second time loss again on the final 3 gates but still managed to put down the fastest time and came away with the win and 30 points for selection.

There is still more to come however, as I have yet to put a complete run I’m 100% satisfied with.

Now the focus all switches to Lee Valley for the final two races, I can’t wait.

 

 

 

Selection is now only four weeks away.

I’ve pretty much followed the same plan as last winter, leaving my lactic work till as late as possible. That means for the past two weeks I’ve been pretty grumpy! Trying to be as quick as I can over full runs but not having the capacity to deal with the lactic volumes yet.

At the weekend I went over to North Wales for the opening domestic race of the season. I haven’t competed at Bala in four years, I choose not to normally go, down to the shallowness of the river. But this year I took the decision to go merely to get on a start line before selection, something that you can’t really prepare for in training.

If you remember last year I had a shocker start to the season at the first premier race in Nottingham, luckily this year I was prepared to feel under race fit and just concentrated on the processes. Even though the course was longer than normal (120 seconds) I felt I dealt with the race quite well and came away with a second place.

I didn’t however feel 100% in myself during the day on Saturday with a cough, that then developed into a fever on Saturday night into Sunday and have since been stuck in bed.

It’s certainly not the ideal preparation but it can’t be helped. I hope to be back out on the water by the back end of the week. Here’s to hoping anyway.

 

 

Last week I spent the week in Pau, France on a training camp.

It was good to get away, paddle a different river, and be around different people. The camp consisted of most of the Podium and Development paddlers from GB Canoeing.

I wrapped up 10 paddling sessions in 6 days. Roughly 400 upstreams and an awful lot of downstreams.

The best thing of the camp was the fact it’s the home of the triple Olympic Champion Tony Estanguet. I was inspired by paddling on the course that helped shape the best canoe slalom athlete to walk this planet. I also got to meet the man himself who recently announced his retirement. I honestly felt like I imagine I would if I was to meet Steven Gerrard. Awestruck.

 

 

Hello and belated happy New Year!

I’ve had a pretty hectic but very enjoyable 6 weeks since my last update. I finished 2012 by hitting new personal bests in the gym and feeling like I’ve made some good progress since the start of winter training back in October.

I did however do something different over Christmas. I had a break. I mean, a proper break. I went away to the west coast of America on my honeymoon for two and a half weeks. A magical two and a half weeks. We went skiing at Lake Tahoe and then we acted like tourists for a change, not canoeists. It was refreshing.

We landed back on New Years Eve and I’ve been training as normal since New Years day. I feel I’ve already got back up to the levels of which I was before I went away.

Last winter I decided not to go away to warmer climates for my winter training, I decided to devote all my time on Lee Valley in order to leave no stone unturned. This winter I am not going away due to the programme being in a transition period between funding cycles, therefore they can’t fund a winter training camp. Fair enough. Not in my control. I did umm and arrr about going away on a self funded trip, but it just seemed too costly. I now regret my decision slightly, as it’s so cold in the UK right now. The summer seems an awful long way away.

But I’m just going about my business as normal. Controlling the controllables, making sure I make the best of this freezing situation.

Here are two pictures, one from my honeymoon and one from training in Lee Valley. Seems I didn’t need to fly to Lake Tahoe to go skiing, Lee Valley has plenty of powder.

I have recently changed my boat manufacture to Galasport. I now paddle the boat ‘What else?’

The decision was a hard one for a number of reasons. I have purchased 11 brand new boats in my canoeing career so far, all 11 being Vajda. So moving away from Vajda and Hydrasports (UK distributor) was hard.

The boat was designed by triple Olympic champion Tony Estanguet. And after the season he’s had it must be a good boat.

After paddling the boat now for 9 weeks I couldn’t be happier. I’m very satisfied with my boat choice for the 2013 season.

I would like to thank Vlada at Galasport for adding me to the G Team and for making me feel welcome in such a short period.

The final race of the season took place over the weekend, and also the first race on the Lee Valley course since the Olympic Games.

The race itself was a mixture of two races, very confusing but I’ll try and shorten it for you.  2 premier races running alongside the British Open, the premier race counting of the best run on each day and the Open an international format (Saturday Qualifying and Sunday Semis and Finals.) race.

I finished second in both the premier events behind David Florence but won the British Open.

Back in September I raced in a premier event in Nottingham, I was dreadful, really bad, hence the reason it didn’t get a website article. I put this down to poor focus and having not put in the hours at the back end of the summer.   I then sat down and made a plan, that plan had an aim of winning the British Open in November. So I’m super happy that worked out and it has got me back on track.

I won’t hide away from the fact that I need to go quicker. David Florence showed on both days what was possible with some incredibly quick times, luckily for me he picked up a 50 second penalty on his semis final run to be knocked out of the British Open.  But still, I needed to perform and I felt I did some pretty good racing over both days.

I now intend to train hard and keep this site more up-to-date.

Watch this space…..

Interclubs 2012. (8-9th September)

At the weekend I took the short trip up the A1 to participate in the annual interclubs competition for the first time in five years.

Interclubs for those who don’t know is a competition for clubs to compete directly against each other.  The winner of the event is the one with the fewest points over the whole weekend. It’s great fun and it was a good chance for me to catch up with old club mates who I don’t see very often since moving south.

Being from Stafford and Stone Canoe Club we don’t just turn up to make up the numbers, we have won the event more than any other club and this year was no exception.  Being a ‘big’ club we had two teams entered in the event, Stafford and Stone A and Stafford and Stone B.

I was competing for the A team in the C1 Prem man category. I won my event and also the canadian team event where I teamed up with the Prem C2 (Roden Brothers) and our C1 lady (Meg Bate).  

It was a great trip down memory lane. Beneath are some photos from this weekend and also from the same event 10 years ago, where I was the Div 2 C1 paddler, paddling teams with the Rodens. Great stuff.

World Cup 5 and the plan for the upcoming weeks

The last world cup of the 2012 season took place at the weekend in Bratislava, Slovakia. I finished 14th.

The race itself was different to past Bratislava races, with heats on the left channel and changing to the right for the finals, this made it quite exciting in my opinion, if somewhat challenging.

The course designer over the weekend was a certain Michal Martikan (Olympic winner 1996,2008) and the qualifying course was one to cherish. Never have I been happier to have just got all the gates at a world cup race. I certainly didn’t race it, just made sure I qualified for the finals.

The finals course was much more realistic and allowed paddlers to race rather than survive. Apart from one very terrible, biased move on the bottom drop. This proved difficult for righties and I lost a bucket load of time. Finishing 14th and less than a second outside of the final, story of my season really.

Now I’m home it’s time to knuckle down and get some good physical training in. I missed lots of training while working at LOCOG over the Olympics but it was good for me to get a decent break, the first time in over four years.

I am concerned with my consistency this year, over the years I feel I’ve been rock solid; this year I have made three big errors at five of the world cups.  That’s simply not good enough considering how well I was paddling early on in the season. Around Olympic selection and the European championships I was easily paddling the best I have in my career, just since then not been able to find that form. I believe it’s down to direction, for the last four years I have woke up every morning aiming for London 2012, since missing out I haven’t known what to aim for, apart from the Europeans where I wanted to do well.  Something which I need to address.

Next up are Interclub’s and some domestic races which I will use as training and try and learn as much from as possible before the winter grind begins.

O, and I get married at the end of the month…… ☺

Prague World Cup - 25th

Sometimes the result doesn't tell the complete story, and that is exactly how today went.

I arrived in Prague on Monday for the 4th World Cup race of the season, I arrived excited to be back on the circuit and more importantly back on whitewater after nearly 8 weeks off it. I didn't know what to expect from myself, I have paddled fast all season and felt I could build on that in Prague. But it wasn't to be.

I pleasantly gave myself a nice surprise by finishing in the top 13 with a solid run and knowing a top 10 was really on the cards, or even a medal.

My semi final run was really good....except one move where I lost plenty of time and that costing me a place in the final.

Where do I go from here? Well since the last race in Seu back in June I have had time out, enjoyed pleasures which I wouldn't normally and began my training for next year, doing lots of gym work and not focusing too heavily on stuff in the boat, stuff which I've really enjoyed. But when you have poor results like today it all seems inappropriate and irrelevant.

It's now onto Bratislava for World Cup 5 where I will be hoping to make amends and get back into that final. But if not I know what I need to do to improve my canoeing and those things I have already started working on.

 

 

Since I haven’t written anything on here for a long time I thought it would be nice to fill you all in with what I’ve been up to.

Since the world cup races I have been busy. For four weeks I was working for LOCOG as a reporter at Lee Valley. This was perfect as it gave me my first real taste of journalism and also meant I could ask some of my idols some questions I’d never normally ask them.

I did however manage to fit some quality weights training in and some different kind of sessions that I’ve really enjoyed. But being honest, I couldn’t wait for my work to finish so I could get back training full time, this showed me how much I enjoy canoeing and I’m really excited about the future.

Of course I felt slightly heart broken watching the Olympics and even more so watching the canoeing. That all went away when I watched my mates Tim Baillie and Etienne Stott deliver a Gold medal for Team GB. Those boys have been through so much, and to see them win gold was incredible.  They deserve everything that’s coming their way and it couldn’t have happened to two nicer guys.

Now onto the final two world cups in Prague and Bratislava at the end of the month.

 

Since Cardiff I have been in Pau, France for World Cup 2 and then onto La Seu d’Urgell for World Cup 3.

Moving on from Cardiff was hard to do. Having paddled so well in the weeks leading up to the race and then only to bow out in the semis seriously felt like a kick in the teeth. But they say “its not how far you fall, its how high you bounce back”.

The course in Pau is a man-made course with a very natural river feel. I love it. After really enjoying the build up and having got Cardiff out of my system I sat on the start line relaxed and focused.  Qualifying went like it always seems to do for myself. Starting off with a poorish run I needed to improve on my second to qualify, which I did, in 9th.

My semi final run was also a mirror image of my semi final run at Cardiff a week earlier. Really good for the first three quarters but a mistake on gate 21 left me with a 50 second penalty and no progression to the final.

Onto Seu world cup and what felt like my best chance to end the 3 race series well. I made the final last year in Seu at the European Championships so I had a good feeling going into the race. But then again I had that for the previous two races also.

Onto the racing and my first qualifying run felt good, finishing in 7th position after 1st runs and ending up in 13th after second runs.  With the course being changed and more technical for the finals I saw this as a good thing for myself and decided to take on a tricky move 18/19 forwards. This proved the right move as if I had spun the gate I think I would have missed the final. I ended the semi final in 9th place.  The final was much the same, never feeling any pressure and delivering another good run, once again nailing the tricky move 18/19 forwards. I eventually ended up 7th. A new World Cup PB. Happy days.

One thing I will take away is something I’ve known for along time. I am paddling really well, the best I ever have. Sure, the bubble has burst regarding the Olympics, but all the hard work I’ve put in to get as close to going to the games as I did was worth it.  It’s now time for a forced break. I have a job covering the canoe slalom event at the Olympics for LOCOG. Apart from that I will be doing lots of gym work. Keep an eye on my website for any news.

 

The first world cup of the season took place over the weekend in Cardiff, Wales.

Unfortunately due to bad weather the opening day of racing was cancelled. This then led to a very early start on the Saturday and for myself as it meant straight into Semis-final run as the heats were scratched for the C1m,C1w and K1m.

Going straight into a semis meant people only had the one run to both get in the groove and make the top ten.

My semis final run was a tale of two stories. Really good on the top 2/3’s but a mistake on a tricky upstream 16-17 left me 6 seconds adrift of making the final. Considering the time I lost I actually took some positives out of it.

The results in the C1m showed how tough the event was, with some notable names missing the final.

It is hard to swallow as I have found myself looking forward to the event for weeks, especially since the Europeans last month where my pace showed I was in good form this season.

Canoeing is like no other sport sometimes. And a slight mistake can be so costly, it can also seem out of your control when you are against so many factors (Water, wind, etc), but this is the sport that I chose, and this is also the sport that I enjoy, and can be good at sometimes.

I would like also to mention David Florence. David, who beat me to the Olympic spot back in April, showed he is truly on form by winning the C1m, and also the C2 event.  So congratulations to him. With David being around and in the same training group for the last 4 years I believe he has contributed massively to my improvement in canoeing. What is better than having a world beater as you rival when it comes to Olympic selection….. There is none.

It’s now onto Pau and then followed by the 3rd world cup race in La Seu D’urgell the following weekend. I can’t wait to get on the continent and make amends for my poor showing in Cardiff.

 

 

The 2012 European champs have been and gone. And I finished 11th, 0.28 seconds off a place in the final. Sport can be cruel at times.

After a solid qualifying I went into the final really calm and focused. The course suited my style more than the heats course due to being more technical so I couldn’t wait to get on the start line.

My run was good, really good. Nailing the top and putting together a really solid bottom section and I crossed the finish line thinking it would be good enough for a top ten and therefore a place in the final.

But it wasn’t to be. One by one they went in front and leaving me in the cruellest position of 11th.

How do I feel? Mixed really. I would go as far to say it was my best run I’ve ever done on the international scene and I didn’t get the same rewards that I have had from poorer runs.

Next up are the world cups that begin in Cardiff 4 weeks from now.


Senior Europeans Qualifying

Today was the opening day of the 2012 Senior European canoe slalom championships which are being held in Augsburg, Germany.

I have safely made it through to the finals by finishing 14th in the heats. Both my runs would have seen me qualify, and both of them having time in them. This means I can now enjoy my day off tomorrow knowing I have good pace in my arms going into finals on Saturday.

 

Firstly I’d like to start with an apology for being so slow at putting a news article up on Olympic selection. I’ve been having a few weeks ‘mentally’ away from canoeing.

I failed to make the Olympic squad, something that I have trained for intensely over the last 4 years, especially the last two.

But if you’d have asked me before selection that if I were to miss out how would I feel then the simple answer would have been “devastated”.  Luckily it’s not like that what so ever, sure I’m disappointed to miss out on an Olympic games, but that hasn’t stopped my life since.

The reason for this is simply down to the following. I have no regrets, that being for the weekend itself or for the weeks, months and years, which I have made the choices that, enabled me to give it the best shot I possibly could.  I also produced new personal best percentages in the racing, which shows improvement. I didn’t lose my head over the whole weekend of racing, even after having a poor first day. So to be devastated I think would be too harsh on myself. I am 23 years old and I have plenty of canoeing left in my arms. And the future excites me.

I won’t go into the weekend racing itself, as that will simply bore people. But I finished 2nd in the final 2 races and ended up Olympic reserve behind a truly inform David Florence.

My summer now looks like this. I will be competing at the senior Europeans in Augsburg, Germany in a week’s time followed by 5 World Cup races later on in the summer.  One of which is in Cardiff bay that I’m really looking forward to, as I have become to really enjoy paddling there in the last few months.

Other things which I will be taking part in is trying to find my feet in the World of sports journalism. Over the winter I have been participating in a sports journalism course and I have set up a few weeks over the summer to take part in an internship with the Guardian.

I would like to thank everyone for their support. This is not the end of Mark Proctor’s canoeing journey, it is just the beginning.

 

I competed in my second race of the season yesterday, which was held at the Cardiff Bay white-water course in South Wales.

This was the third race to be held on the course since it’s opening in 2010. In the previous two races I have gone on to have some incredibly poor performances. But this year was different.

After last weeks below average race in Nottingham I was really fired up to get back on track and deliver a good race. With another week of lactic work in my arms I felt much better physically and delivered two very competitive fast runs.

After first runs I was 0.7 off the lead but knew I had time to be had and went onto improve on my second run to a 102 but with a 2 second penalty. I’m going to go into the touch into some more detail because I’m still fuming about it to be honest. Let me paint the picture - The competitor before me hit the upstream 10 and the gate was still swinging when I arrived a minute later, this meant I went right around the pole, managing to stay clear. I knew I was clear and when watching the video its obvious it was clear. After an unsuccessful protest I ended up in 2nd less than half a second behind the winner who won with a 103 time. So without the touch I would have been walking away with the win.

Never the less I’m really excited about how my form is arriving and can’t wait to freshen up nicely for selection in 3 weeks time. Lets hope that’s my unlucky judging calls for the year.

On another note, Campbell Walsh dominated the K1m winning by 3 seconds with a time of 95+2. I think that’s worth a shout out.

Below is a video of my second run. Keep an eye out for that non-existent touch on gate 10.

 

 

 

I recently received a Bioflow sport wristband. This all came about via a conversation on twitter and I'm more than happy to give the product a go and give feedback.

It arrived this morning and it fits nicely and also looks rather trendy. Even better as it's in the LFC colours.

Bioflow sponsors a number of successful sportsmen. Lee Westwood, Ali Carter being just a few who sport the bands. All of which come in some rather funky and stylish colours.

To know more about the bands and what the job of them are then take a look at their website here.

 

My racing season kicked off in Nottingham for the second premier race of the season.

After starting my lactic block last week and having gym testing on the Thursday before the race I didn’t feel too sharp. But I’ve been there before and was looking forward to seeing what I could do.

What was to follow was a poor display by myself. Really racing within myself. Whether this was down to being rusty from not having raced since last October I don’t know. Either way I came away from Nottingham having to put things into perspective. That was my fourth full runs session and I’m just beginning to feel myself over race distance, something which will only get better the more full’s I do between now and selection.

I finished 5th,picking up a silly touch on my better run knocking me down from third to fifth, but that’s racing. 

After a really good winter I’m confident the speed will come over a full run. Collecting new PB’s in the gym on Thursday showed that I’m in great shape. It’s just adapting that over 100 seconds rather than 30-50 seconds which I’ve done up until last week. Patience.

Can’t wait to get back on Lee Valley where I’ve spent the entire winter training.

Onwards and upwards.

 

Last night I trained for the first time on Lee Valley under floodlights. This was in preparation for selection that if the wind picks up they can then re arrange the race for the evening once the wind has died down.
It was great fun and added an extra element to the sport.

Last season I raced for the first time under floodlights in Bosnia at the U23 European Championships, I loved it. Not only does it look more dramatic, it creates a good atmosphere and keeps the focus on the course and the athletes. The water also looks bigger and better with the lights reflecting off the whitewater.

I do think the sport could be more glamorous and this could be a way of attracting a greater fan base along with sponsors and participant’s.  I’m not sure if it is feasible with electricity costs and costs of adding decent floodlights to courses but my point-of-view is that it could add something to the sport.


 

It’s been a while since I last wrote something on the site.


That’s mainly down to not much else going on apart from training really.


Last week was my final week of the so-called ‘winter’ training and things have now moved onto more competition-based training.


With only toothache and a sore neck my only niggle over the winter (touch wood), this has enabled me to push myself as hard as I could and leave me in a good position going into the season, that is fast approaching.


The season for me kicks off in Nottingham on the 17th March, this being a domestic race. I’m looking forward to racing and also keen to use this race along with the Cardiff race a week later to sharpen up my racing ahead of Olympic selection in April.


 

 

I have just returned home from a 3-day training camp in Cardiff bay.

After all my training being in London since the end of October the team decided it would be good to have a few days away and get some time on a course which holds a World Cup in the summer.

The 3 days consisted of the same training of which I do in London but just on a different course. The course itself I find more challenging then Lee Valley. This being due to the inconsistent nature of some of the eddies.

I trained well. Noticeably being quick on the core sessions against the Kayak men. It is approaching the end of my winter training block and I couldn’t be in a better place both physically and mentally.

The camp was also good because of the people I shared it with. It’s different going away in a mini bus compared to on a plane and this created some brilliant banter.  It made for an enjoyable and focused 3-day camp.

 

 

I recently did an interview with Nick Mashiter from the Express and Star.

The Express and Star is a Midlands newspaper which I grew up collecting for my dad on a daily basis.

The interview itself was very enjoyable and I like the end write up.

 

 

I recently took part in an interview for SkySports News. The piece went out yesterday and if you would like to view the film then it can be found here.

 

The last week has been a ‘Testing’ week. This being really important to me in order to show if the training is doing what it’s meant to be doing. The testing is both in the gym and on the water. The gym testing for me involving one-rep max tests on both cleans, overhead squat, chins and then power testing on clean pull. The water tests take part in a swimming pool (Same conditions all year round) and consist of some 20-metre sprint tests along with some 100-metre tests with limited rest in between each effort.

All the testing went according to plan, improving on everything. Happy days.

Over the next 4 weeks I will be working closely with Jurg Gotz, This being because my coach Mark Delaney will be away coaching other athletes. I’m looking forward to working with Jurg as he has a huge depth of knowledge on canoeing and hope to learn from him.  This will include a training camp to the canoe slalom course in Cardiff. Apart from that I look forward to training on the Olympic course everyday.


The racing season is fast approaching……

 

 

 

December has flown by and I’m now into my last weeks training on the Olympic course of 2011.

As the same as November I have kept to working on my strength and this has gone better than both me and my coach thought it would. We had slight doubts in changing my approach to training this winter but agreed with my weights coach to try it till December. A risk you might think not worth taking with the Olympics just around the corner. But with my physical gains being much greater than my technical ones on the water we decided it was a risk worth taking.

And how it’s turning out is much greater than we all envisioned. Increasing all of my exercises by a minimum of 7.5kg in the space of 8 weeks. This most importantly is showing on the water, with my consistency and my raw speed being greater than it’s ever been before


I’m buzzing and looking forward to spending some family time in my little 4 day break over Christmas, knowing the fact I will have a great block behind me.  I’m also off to Anfield on Boxing Day to watch my beloved reds.

Merry Christmas everyone and thank you for the support in 2011. It’s now onto the big one, which is 2012!

 

 

Here is an update on my winter training and how it’s been going.


November has been surprisingly warm in London, making training very enjoyable on the water.
The month has consisted of lots of gym work and the daily water sessions.

With my main target between now and Christmas being to get stronger and more powerful, the main emphasis has definitely been in the gym and it’s already showing, with new PB’s all across the board.


It’s also been the month of “Movember”. And I have been attempting to grow a “tash” for men’s health. If you fancy donating/laughing then please do so at my page here.

 

 

 

I recently received my latest Peakuk goodies. 2 brand spanking winter cags and a new predator helmet.  I have since worn them and really like them, the winter cags are super toasty and will be ideal for the cold mornings ahead.  The helmet also fits nicely and with it’s adjustable foam it means I can wear my skull cap underneath when it gets really cold!

The last weekend of October is a familiar one for the British canoeing community. It's home to the final race of the year, and this year the race was held in Nottingham. It also joined up to make 2 races in one, with Saturdays British Open qualification counting as the final Premier race of the season. Then the finals of the Open taking place on the Sunday as normal.

I was buzzing to be back on the start line. I've been in winter training for the last 3 weeks so to be on a startline and not in the gym was a pleasant change!

On the Saturday I finished second behind Dave Florence by 0.3 seconds. A close race which I felt I should have won but still, as I've not competed enough Premier races to get a good ranking it didn't matter too much and my focus soon turned to the Sundays racing.

The finals course was quicker, more options but still a good course for tight racing. After a small error in my semis run I ended the semis in 2nd. But a massive gap between myself and Dave made me think that it would take a very good run to win the finals. After looking back at my semis run I highlighted places where time could be found. My semis run was a 91.3+2 , I figured a sub 87 would win the race. My final run went well, losing slight bit of time in the plughole upstream but delivering a good run under pressure of 86.4! I then had to wait to watch Dave down the course to see if he could challenge. He did an 87.6 so that was that. P1.

It's the perfect way to end the season and a good way to start winter training. Can't wait for 2012 to start!

Stafford and Stone Canoe Club unveils its new £560,000 club house!

At the weekend I went back up the road for the unveiling of the new Stafford and Stone club house.I've not been back there since last summer when the site was a building zone and the old clubhouse had been flatterened. And what a difference a year makes.

It was a cracking night. Along with the speeches and trips down memory lane there was also a head to head night slalom. Which was brilliant fun, with being top GBR boat in the club I was automatically fast tracked to the semis. I won the semis final against George Tatchell and then went on to beat Adam Burgess in the final. Winning my first prize money in canoe slalom of £20.12p!

The clubhouse is an amazing achievement for the club and everyone involved with it past and present. The money that was raised through private donations and fund raising events is incredible. A huge welldone to everyone involved. Here is a link the the BBC write up.

Back To Business

Since my last news article I have been taking a break from canoeing, making sure I got away and refreshed myself in order to come back fresh for the beginning of winter training.

This year was a long one; well it certainly felt like that for me. I have never felt such an urge for a break and to get away. I now feel refreshed and after 2 days back into training I feel excited and determined like I never have before. I have already set my aims for the winter, making them near impossible. But as one brand says-"Nothing is impossible".

I already look back at the season with only positives. Of course I ended the season with a below par result at the Worlds, and the black and white results show that, but they don't show that for 90% of the run I was on pace with the leaders, which is something I have never been able to do.

I also made another European final in la Seu d'Urgell, Spain. Plus picking up a PB in my final Under 23 Championships by finishing 4th, under a second from a medal.

This year I decided not to do many domestic races in order to focus on the internationals but I will be competing at the final race of the season in Nottingham at the end of October.

Another thing which is exciting me is the contiuned support through ZipVit Sport. Over the next few months I will be working closely with them in order to maximise my training benefits with the use of their products.

Keep a close on the site for updates on my progress.

Below are some pictures from the worlds and one from my holiday in America.

          

2011 World Championships - 21st 11/9/11

Today I finished 21st in the World Championships I'm not disappointed with my World Championships.

21st is certainly not where I wanted to finish. But if I look back at the weekends racing I'm not overly gutted.  After qualifying 11th yesterday with 2 clean and quick runs. Along with my 9th at the Senior Europeans and other races this year I truly believe I'm well on track with my development in the sport. This leaves me excited with the winter ahead and the things I can improve on can only make me a better paddler

My semis run was good. Being well in the pack by 3/4's of the way down. A technical mistake and a touch pushing me outside the leaders times. I have no excuses. And maybe in a few days I'll be disappointed but for now I know I'm up there. Even if today's black and White results don't show that.

The surprises of the championships are certainly Martikan missing out on a medal, first time since pre 1995 and reigning world champion Tony Estanguet missing the final.

Congratulations to all medal winners.

          
          

Worlds Preparation Update + Worlds Peakuk kit

          

Just a quick update on how my worlds preparations are going.

          

I'm now well into my taper and I'm feeling really sharp.I'm just ticking over now until the race. All the hard work is done regarding course familiarisation and now the job is to make sure I'm fresh for qualification day on Thursday. So all in all I'm happy, just a little bored because I'm not doing much paddling!

          

Just before I left the UK on Tuesday I received my Peakuk Worlds kit. The kit is for members of the Peakuk team and is a special edition. It looks great and is nice and tight meaning I can get close to the poles without brushing against them.

          

World Championships website link here

                        

Prague World Cup Final. 17th  14/8/11

I finished 17th at the final world cup race of the year in Prague. My run itself was good. But a 2 second penalty cost me the chance of a good result.

I'm happy with my paddling, just slightly frustrated I've not shown it on the senior circuit as much this year. After starting the season so strongly I think I'm right to be annoyed.But at the same time realising where my priorities are for the year and that's the Worlds next month.

I will now begin to taper for the Worlds.

Bratislava Training Camp.

Since the U23's I've got back into training hard with the Lee Valley test event slotting in there also. The training went well but the racing didn't. Which on the positive gave me a much needed 3 day break. I won't expand on the racing as I don't feel I need to.

My main focuses for this year were and are... Senior Europeans (9th) Under 23 Europeans (4th) and the Worlds in September. So it didn't surprise me to be off the pace at Lee Valley.

I've now been in Bratislava for 5 days. This will be my 3rd week here this year. Reaching 5 and a half by the time the worlds come around. It feels like home from home now.I love the course. It has some sweet upstreams and nice stopper moves along with a great wave under the middle bridge. This is not even mentioning the famous "Niagra" bottom drop(video below). I also have confidence on the course after finishing 5th at last years senior Euros.

We move to Prague on Monday for the World Cup final next weekend. Again on a course with some super upstreams and the racing is guaranteed to be tight. I can't wait! 

SILVER on the final day of the Under 23 Europeans

Today bought a close to the U23 European championships for 2011. And with it a silver medal for myself. 

After narrowly missing out on a medal in the individuals yesterday I was keen to get hold of a medal before I left Bosnia as it being my final year of being able to compete in the event.

After qualifying for the final in second I knew we had the pace, it was just about repeating that performance in the final. And we didn't disappoint. 

It was an absolute pleasure doing teams with Adam and Tom, all of us having total belief in each other and tightly negotiating the course and doing so in a quick fashion. A big thanks goes to them. Without them I wouldn't be going home with a medal. 

Czechs 1st

GREAT BRITAIN 2nd

Germany 3rd

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