Rio Olympics beckon for kayaker Stephen Bird


Stephen Bird has events in Germany and Czech Republic, before two months training in London prior to the Rio Games. Picture: David Baylis        www.communitypix.com.au   d453754
Stephen Bird has events in Germany and Czech Republic, before two months training in London prior to the Rio Games. Picture: David Baylis        www.communitypix.com.au d453754

WA canoe sprinter Stephen Bird is paddling off to his second Olympics in August.

The 27-year-old, who trains at Bayswater, qualified for the Rio Olympics after finishing first in the Kayak 1 200m (K1 200) singles events at the 2016 National Sprint Championships in Perth and the 2016 Oceania Sprint Championships.

Bird will be competing in the K1 200 singles event at the Rio Olympics after previously competing in the doubles at the 2012 London Olympics, where he and his partner made the final.

Bird, who is also a member of the Canning River Canoe Club, said he started the sport when he was eight.

The Highgate resident said while he was a full-time athlete he studied psychology at Curtin University and worked as a casual health and well-being ambassador for mining firm Brierty.

Bird said he felt relieved when he qualified for Rio.

“I’ve gone through a few little stages and gone through a few emotions but of course, straight after the race in which I qualified in at the trials (I felt) completely elated, very relieved, release of pressure,” Bird said.

When asked about his goals, Bird said his only expectation was to do his best.

“It is hard to set goals for me because I am very inexperienced in this race, the singles, because I’m normally with my mate in doubles,” he said.

“”My worst nightmare is firstly to not give it my all and secondly not execute everything that I would’ve wanted to execute in a race from a start to the transition, to the middle of the race to the ending.

“It’s all I can do, so I’m not 100 per cent sure about what that would give me internationally at this stage but to stay accountable to my potential would be first prize.”

Bird said he had to thank his family, his girlfriend Hannah and his work for their ongoing support.

Later this month, Bird will head overseas to compete in warm-up events before Rio, including the 2016 International Canoe Federation Canoe Sprint World Cup 1 in Germany.