Sat, 24 Jul 2021

TOKYO, July 21 (Xinhua) -- New Zealand canoe slalom Callum Gilbert is in Tokyo and training harder than ever as he prepares for the biggest competition of his life.

Callum competes in the K1 and is one-half of the New Zealand Canoe Slalom team, alongside Rio 2016 silver medallist Luuka Jones. The men's K1 competition begins on July 28th.

The 25-year-old was one of the first New Zealand athletes to arrive in Japan, where he's been spending as much time as possible at the Kasai Canoe Slalom Centre, training and familiarizing himself with the course ahead of the competition.

"It's been fantastic to get on the venue, and I'm really enjoying the way it's set up," said Gilbert.

"There's a lot of attributes which are really similar to our Auckland course at Wero. I've been based at Wero for a few years now, so I feel like that's a bit of an advantage for me."

Gilbert arrived on July 8 and says the extra time on the course is already paying dividends.

"Arriving early has been extremely helpful as well, it's really important for us to get to know the course and I'm feeling ready to go.

"I'm really happy to be here and I'm progressing really well so I feel like everything's on track."

After a lengthy delay in international competition, he's pleased to be back wearing the fern and representing New Zealand.

"It's been great seeing the other paddlers and feeling that pre-competition buzz again.

"I'm really looking forward to getting into the village and seeing the wider team as well. From there it'll just be a few days of polishing things off before we get into competition."

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