It’s a twisting, winding path to success in the world of canoe slalom – but Alice Haining is hoping for the most direct route possible.
The Borders paddle ace, 25 this month, is focusing on returning to the UK senior squad in 2019 – and has passed the selection criteria allowing her to be considered.
She’ll be bidding for a place from the position of number three in the national rankings – the highest she’s ever attained.
Another goal, later in the year, is to be part of the Tokyo Olympics squad in 2020.
Alice knows it will be a very demanding task to achieve these targets and she will face some very high-calibre opposition.
In the Olympic selection, for example, she’ll be up against people on British canoeing programmes – while she is not on any.
“It will be quite hard but I have been putting in the work and, hopefully, I will get some senior World Cups as well,” she said.
In addition to the Olympic and senior UK events, there are five World Cups and Senior Euros and Senior World engagements, all in 2019 – so it’s going to be an extremely busy year.
Alice, from Galashiels but now living in Nottingham, took up the sport aged nine at Selkirk High School – and she still competes for the town’s canoe club.
She won the UK Open title in 2017 – and very nearly recaptured it recently. Her time was the fastest, but a two-second penalty unfortuantely robbed her of top place.
“It was nice to know I had still kind of held that standard and was able to compete at that level,” she said. “It was good that, on the day, I could really just focus. I was quite happy that I could race against stress.”
Alice manages her own training and reckons she’ll be busy in the gym until mid-January, working on fitness, before water-based physicals, on the flat and doing loops.
Alice also coaches young enthusiasts aged 13-17.
“I absolutely love it,” she said. “It has massively helped my own paddling – you are practising what you preach.
“I’ve learned to talk and paddle at the same time.”