Even her schedule is a pain
By STEVE BUFFERY -- Toronto Sun
VICTORIA, B.C. -- Kayak racer Caroline Brunet, arguably Canada's best chance to win a gold medal at next month's Sydney Olympics, is battered, bruised and beaten up.
In fact, the triple world champion said every minute she trains Down Under adds up to 60 seconds of pain and misery.
"I'm getting old, my body's worn out," Brunet, 31, said yesterday from her training base on Australia's Gold Coast.
But that might not be a bad sign. The native of Lac Beauport, Que., knows the only cure for her pain is rest, and that won't come until after Oct. 1, the day of her K-1 (kayak singles) and K-2 (pairs) finals.
Only then, after she attempts to win two gold medals, will Brunet let her body recuperate. For now, she is training four to five hours a day -- on the water, lifting weights and running -- despite constant pain in her neck (arthritis), her left hip, her right buttock, her shoulders and her arms.
But Brunet doesn't necessarily see pain as the enemy. At least it tells her that she is training hard.
Brunet has done everything possible to put herself in the best position to come away with the gold, including moving her training base to Australia six weeks before the Games.
Her only enemy at this point is the Games schedule. Organizers have scheduled both her finals on not only the same day, but only one hour apart.
Years ago, the Canadian Canoe Association lobbied the IOC and International Canoe Federation to change the schedule. But the pleas fell on deaf ears, and now Brunet is under pressure to come up huge twice in the same day.
"It's like facing a wall," Brunet said with a sigh. "There are so many changes that need to be done in the (amateur) sport system. But I know I have to be fast in the K-1 event and very fast an hour later. And my training has been geared to handle both finals (and) I think I can do it."
ONLY 500-METRE RACES
Brunet first will compete in the K-1 final and then will join partner Karen Furneaux of Waverley, N.S., for the K-2. They are defending world silver medallists in the pairs.
Because women are permitted to race only 500 metres at the Olympics, Brunet won't get a chance to repeat her unprecedented world-championship feat of sweeping the K-1 200-, 500- and 1,000-metre events.
Brunet doesn't like to admit it, but apparently one of the reasons she flew to Australia so early was to escape the media pressure at home -- being a double gold-medal contender and all. She insisted yesterday she can handle any outside expectations and nothing will throw her for a loop in her quest for double gold.
"I've always done this sport for myself, first and foremost, (and) the only pressure I will allow is my own," she said. "As for anyone who says I might win one or two Olympic gold medals, I don't see that as pressure, I see that mostly as a source of confidence and motivation."
Brunet is the early favourite to carry the flag for Canada at the opening ceremony. Anne Merklinger, director general of the CCA, confirmed yesterday that Brunet has been named a finalist by the Canadian Olympic Association to do the flag honours and that she will be in Sydney when the Games begin.
The flagbearer will be named next Tuesday.