After winning the 2014 V1 world title just eight months after taking up para-canoe, Australia’s Curtis McGrath is keen to repeat the feat again this August in Milan, Italy, and also improve in the K1 discipline too.
At the 2014 ICF Para-canoe World Championships in Moscow, Russia, McGrath clocked 48.59 seconds to edge out Great Britain's Jonny Young and Russia's Victor Potanin in the final.
“I learnt from the final in Moscow 2014, that I have to believe in my training and always focus on the process of paddling my boat in my lane, not to think about the other boats on the water,” said McGrath, an ex-combat engineer in the Australian army who had both his legs amputated following an IED explosion in Afghanistan in 2012.
In Italy, not only will McGrath be racing in his main V1 discipline, he will also compete in K1 single kayak, and his transition has already gone better than planned; he recently won March’s Australian National Championships.
The reason for his decision to also take part in kayak is because Va’a boat racing will not be contested at Rio 2016 and in addition to world titles, McGrath also wants to land Paralympic gold.
Training full-time on the Gold Coast, Australia, McGrath is focussing on endurance, putting down 100km a week on water in preparation for this year's World Championship.
“It's nice here but it can be very hot and humid, I think that is the only bad thing in my opinion about the place, the rest is great; a good healthy lifestyle and a good bunch of people around,” he said.
Prior to the Worlds, international athletes compete at the World Cup in Duisburg, Germany on 22-24 May, yet the Europeans and South Americans will also race at their own continental championships which could swing the results in their favour.
“Other countries have an advantage due to the amount of competitions they have prior to World Champs. But I believe we have good facilities and resources here in Australia to be able to be competitive on the water at all the World Cups and Champs.
“It would be nice to have an equivalent here in Oceania but because there are only a few countries that paddle in the region it would be hard to have a good field of athletes.”
The ICF Para-Canoe World Championships are set to take place in Milan, Italy, between 19-21 August 2015.