Alyssa Bull has quit professional surf lifesaving to focus exclusively on her kayaking career Photo: Warren Lynam / Sunshine Coast Daily
Alyssa Bull has quit professional surf lifesaving to focus exclusively on her kayaking career Photo: Warren Lynam / Sunshine Coast Daily Warren Lynam

Paddlers are laughing all the way to Brazil

KAYAKING: Like chuckling schoolgirls, Alyssa Bull and Alyce Burnett couldn't keep a straight face.

The duo struggled to retain their composure while posing for the Daily's snapper at Maroochy River earlier this week.

"We haven't really had a photo together before and we're both pretty giggly," Burnett said.

In the end they got the job done though, like they almost always do.

Like they did at Perth on the weekend when they won the national K2 title and essentially booked spots on the plane to Rio and the Olympic Games.

In fact, their cheerful nature and strong friendship have played major roles in their success.

"I think if we didn't keep things light and fresh we would have had totally different results," Burnett said.

"I think we annoy some of the other teams because the way we approach things is quite light hearted.

"But once we're on the water it's all systems go."

Bull agreed.

"We're always laughing," she said.

"We do have the capacity to take things seriously but only when we have to."

When they do switch into race mode, they're a formidable unit.

The duo clocked one of the fastest times by an Australian women's K2 crew, on Australian soil, while in Perth.

But it was there, pre-race, that Burnett wasn't laughing for once.

She was actually in tears given the pressure of the situation.

But she quickly found that competitive spirit when the it counted.

"It was make-or-break for us and I was walking down to the water," she said.

"Normally I'm not that nervous before races but my dad was there and he gave me a hug and I had a few tears come out and I was like 'oh my gosh'.

"So we had to re-group and as soon as we hopped on the water, it was all back to normal and we were back in our routine and it was all good."

For Burnett, Olympic selection is welcomed after she missed the boat to the Olympics in 2012.

It makes this occasion much more special.

"For years I sacrificed so much to try and reach this pinnacle," she said.

"It doesn't only mean a lot to me, it means a lot to my family and all my friends, who have also sacrificed a lot.

"Before London I was quite young and still pretty new to the sport. I went for the K4 and just came up short with that so that was a massive learning curve for me."

For Bull, it's come along much more quickly.

A surf lifesaving star just a few years ago, she competed on the elite Kellogg's Nutri-Grain Ironwoman Series.

But kayaking scouts saw her potential and asked her to switch sports and she quickly emerged as one of the nation's best paddlers.

"I was thinking to myself I wouldn't be anywhere near (a Games) until Tokyo (2020) but then I got on to my first senior team shortly after that and now I'm on the Olympic team which is crazy," she said.

They hope to be finals contenders in Brazil.



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