- 21 May 08, 01:49 PM
The British slalom canoeing team for the Beijing Olympics has been confirmed at the sport's base, the water sports centre at Holme Pierrepont, near Nottingham.
When I say British, I really mean Scottish. The trio competing in Beijing will be 30-year-old Campbell Walsh, Fiona Pennie, who's 25, and David Florence, also 25. Walsh was born in Glasgow, Pennie hails from Crieff in Perthshire, and Florence is from Aberdeen.
Helen Reeves, who won bronze in the K1 (kayak single) class in Athens four years ago, will be commentating for BBC Sport on this summer's events. I've just spoken to her about the team for Beijing and she's confident the Scots can bring home some medals.
"Campbell went to Athens and got silver, but he was pretty gutted not to get the gold," she told me.
"He was pretty close that time and now he's European Champion - his first ever gold medal, in an Olympic year.
"Nationally we've picked it up a bit in the last year. At the World Championships Richard Hounslow was right behind him, so he's been pushed far more than he has in the past, and he has to be our best gold medal hope."
Second on the list is Fiona Pennie, who Reeves says "fully deserves" to have qualified for Beijing.
"She won silver at the World Championships in 2006, in Prague, and won a medal at the World Cup in 2007, so she's got a couple of medals behind her, which is great.
"She's capable of doing extremely well. At the Olympics people bottle it but she's great in the big races, on the days that count."
Reeves says Britain's final Olympic hopeful, David Florence, has slowly been stepping up his performances.
"In the last couple of years Dave has really blossomed. He's a real talent and is recognised on the international stage as one of the top runners.
"The potential for a medal is there for him, He works on the fine details and leaves nothing unturned, he'll have looked in every single corner. It's just whether he keeps it all together."
One of the interesting things about the slalom in Beijing is that the number of boats taking part has been cut - again.
When the sport was re-introduced for Barcelona '92, each nation could qualify three boats in each class. By Sydney that was one boat with the possibility of a second (Britain didn't make use of that), and now every nation gets just the one boat in each class.
That works well for the Brits because - whilst all the top athletes still qualify - the depth of some leading countries is reduced.
For example, at last month's European Championships in Poland, Fiona Pennie finished 11th in the K1 class, with the podium populated entirely by Czech paddlers. Also ahead of Pennie were two Slovakians, two Germans and two Russians.
Under the 2008 Olympic qualification rules, you could argue that Pennie would have finished sixth with those extra athletes out of the equation.
That doesn't mean the Olympics is an easier competition to win, since the cream of the crop still make it - but the field is less crowded and a brilliant performance on the day is more likely to propel a British paddler into the top three.
Next up is the announcement of the British flatwater canoeing team, due soon. The British team are fairly sure they know who will qualify, but need the International Canoe Federation to confirm it, then the BOA to give it the final seal. GB star Anna Hemmings is expected to feature, and she'll be writing for us once we know for certain.
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