For Tim Brabants, who studied medicine here at Nottingham University, the last 6 months has been a whirlwind. After becoming the first Briton to win gold in the K-1 1000m canoe competition, at this year’s Beijing Olympics he has been enjoying the luxury of being a national hero. I caught up with Tim in Nottingham, after he gave a motivational speech to the AU club captains and presidents, to find out more about the man behind the gold.
How does it feel to be back at your old university?
It’s great to be back at Nottingham because of all the support I received whilst I was studying here. It’s a testament to the university that I was able to achieve both my dreams of becoming a doctor and an Olympic athlete.
Your training must be gruelling. How do you get over the monotony of it?
Training can get pretty intensive, but what breaks it up are the different types of training we do. I work out in the gym, swim, ski and cycle and get to travel to different places over the world to do this. My favourite training destination is in Cape Town; my friend has an amazing house overlooking this immense lake which I train on. It’s really quite breath taking!
In the Olympic final where you took gold, what was going through your mind during the race?
To be honest when the race started I thought I was going to win, and after two strokes I knew I was doing well. I have a race plan which I developed in training, at which points to push harder, what stroke pace to maintain, and I just stuck to it. I had never led an international race from start to finish so I just knew this was my day for victory.
How did you celebrate your victory? I’m guessing it was drink-fuelled!
Well I didn’t get to do anything that night because I was competing the next day in the 500m race [for which he won Bronze] but after that all the team went out for a meal, it was pretty tame. When we got back from Beijing the guys and I went on a 3 week binge which got very messy. Doesn’t really fit in with an athlete’s healthy lifestyle though!
What was the best perk about winning gold?
Well I got to fly home first class from Beijing and got to chat with Princess Anne – I also get loads of things sent to my house like a year’s supply of Wispa bars and Weetabix! I was even invited to the premiere of The Duchess where I met Kiera Knightley… That was quite a messy night too!
What’s next for Tim Brabants?
I’ll go back to work as a doctor for 18 months which is an enjoyable and fulfilling break from training. I’ll still be competing though, taking part in triathlons around the country but it’s been a great journey so far, a lot of hard work and I’m looking forward to starting it all again in the lead up to 2012.