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London Olympic gold medal kayaker Murray Stewart has had a tumultuous build up to the 2016 Olympic Games. Having set two new personal bests at trials in April and securing his spot on the Australian team he was struck down by glandular fever. It was a devastating blow for the Sydneysider who had previously suffered from the virus and it forced him off the water for three weeks. He then received the news that he wouldn’t have the chance to defend his 2012 K4 1000m win and was also overlooked for the K2 event. Despite returning to full health it means that Murray will now only compete in the K1 1000m.
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However, the 29-year-old is more determined than ever to excel in Rio.
“My last four years have been filled with some huge highs and lows – on and off the water. I feel that somewhere along the way I forgot how much enjoyment I get from being out on the water paddling. In the lead up to Rio, I’ve focussed on finding my passion for the sport again,” he reveals.
Murray’s support network is crucial and he appreciates the sacrifices they have made to help him on his journey. He is routinely joined by his family and friends at events, but because of fears surrounding the Zika virus, his newly pregnant wife Rebecca won’t be able to travel to Rio.
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The final leg of Murray’s road to Rio has taken him to Verase in Italy for final preparations. Since winning gold at his debut Olympics four years ago there’s no doubting his journey has taken a few unexpected turns but the strong-willed, hard-working athlete believes he is now on the right track.
“My biggest challenge in Rio will be to make sure that I can get the very best out of myself. This means timing my training to perfection, peaking at the right time, and being physically and mentally ready to race when the gun goes.”
We’ll certainly be cheering as Murray dons the green and gold and races for a second Olympic gold medal.
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