Nathan's golden dream
By GARY CHIGWIDDEN
Silver's good. But gold is better! And that's what Olympic kayaker Nathan Baggaley will be chasing at Beijing four years from now. Resting at his parents Suffolk Park home last week and proudly display- ing the two silver medals he won at the Athens games,
Nathan says he still has the fire in his belly to go for gold in 2008. But it's going to be a fire that will be slowly stoked. For the next two years he is plan- ning a much reduced major racing program concentrating on the world titles and giving the rest of the Euro- pean circuit a miss.
It will be a case of "keeping in touch" with his major competitors over the next two years and then he will begin a slow build-up to Beijing.
There's also his future after racing to consider and on that score, he's looking at building up his credentials to stay in the sport as a coach.
Nathan arrived back from Athens with the rest of the Australian team last week and by virtue of his silver medals in the K1 500m and K2 500m with Clint Robinson, made the jour- ney in business class.
"A nice bonus," according to the 28-year-old, who started paddling skis with the Byron Bay Surf Club and who will represent the Gold Coast Northcliff Surf Club at the world surf titles in Italy in two weeks.
He might have been suffering a touch of delayed jetlag when the News spoke to him last week, but nothing could hide Nathan's obvious pride in winning two Olympic silver medals for himself and his country.
And the fact that the two medals were won in the space of just over an hour only highlights what a great achievement it was.
But his Olympics campaign didn't really get off to the start he was hop- ing for, missing out on a medal in the final of the K1 1000m.
"I was not at my best that week. I was just a little bit ill and possibly overtrained," he said. "I just got a little too anxious and too excited by it all and possibly just pushed myself a little too hard. "I could not have pushed my body any harder. "My body was not 100 percent - it was maybe 98 percent and you can't give away two percent at that level."
Nathan admits that after the first day of racing he knew he was not in his best form and something was "not quite right". But as the week went on, he felt himself getting better and better. It culminated last Saturday week in the finals of the K1 500m and the K2 500m.
In the K1 event, Nathan knew the best chance he had of winning gold was an explosive start - and he nailed it. "I was out of there," he said. "I did it perfectly. I couldn't have done it any better. "Normally I would have held on to a lead like that, but in the end I was fading. "It was disappointing in that re- gard, but still, getting a silver medal . . ."
Having to compete in the K2 final with Clint Robinson just over an hour later - with a medal ceremony sand- wiched in between - had no impact on the outcome, according to Nathan.
"We had our best possible race and to be honest, I don't think we could have done any better", he said.
To say that Nathan enjoyed being on the podium to collect his two med- als is an understatement. But he still wants to taste the air one step higher.
"I was thinking, 'how good would this be if I was actually listening to our anthem,' " he said. In four years' time, he just might find out.