Saffron Walden's Sugar sets targets for paracanoeing Sprint World Championships

PUBLISHED: 13:00 15 August 2019

Saffron Walden's Laura Sugar in action (pic canoephotography.com)

Saffron Walden's Laura Sugar in action (pic canoephotography.com)

canoephotography.com/Bence Vekassy(ICF)

Saffron Walden's Laura Sugar is eager to continue her rapid rise in the paracanoeing world at this Sprint World Championships in Hungary this month.

European medalist Sugar, 28, joined the sport last September after a promising career in para-athletics and has already established herself inthe KL3 class by taking bronze at her first international event in Poznan.

Sugar - who finished fifth in the women's T44 100m at the Rio Paralympics - believes she can compete with the best in Szeged, but explains she is focused on increasing her race experience.

She said: "It's gone very quickly over the last few months and I've gone from thinking I was going to have a learning year to being competitive and going to the World Championships.

"I joined paracanoeing with the view of competing in these sorts of events in the future, but I've managed to drop about 20 seconds off my original time which is great and I'm really enjoying it.

"There's been lots to get to grips with and in Poznan I nearly fell in a couple of times, so it's really important for me to learn how to deal with different situations.

"I've had a lot of racing experience with athletics, but it's very different with paracanoeing so the more races I can do, the better I think I can be.

"Having competed at the Europeans, hopefully there'll be less distractions in Hungary so I can just go and execute my race and hopefully be successful for the team."

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Sugar has been selected to represent Britain in the KL3 classification alongside Hope Gordon, who is similarly new to paracanoeing this year.

As well as challenging for medals at the World Championships both athletes will be vying to finish in the top six to qualify a quota spot for the Paralympic Games next summer, and the former Welsh hockey star insists that remains the priority.

"That's the number one aim," she said. "Both being quite new athletes we want to enjoy it, but I'm competitive and I want to do well. Hopefully we can get that secured and I'd like to - conditions dependant - get a PB. If that puts me in the medals, then great.

"Me and Hope get on really well and as a squad we push each other every day - it's a really good atmosphere and we all just want to make sure as many of us go to Tokyo as possible."

Sugar currently combines canoeing with athletics, and admits she has one eye on competing in both sports at next year's Paralympics.

She said: "I'm still doing my athletics and so far, the combination has worked - I thought one would affect the other but I'm doing well in both so it's so far, so good.

"It depends on the schedule and what happens between then and now, but I'd love to do both.

"I may have to prioritise one and I know how hard it's going to be just to make the team, but the ultimate aim is to get there and get a medal - or two medals!"

*British Canoeing is the national governing body for paddlesports in the UK. Their purpose is to inspire people to pursue a passion for paddling; for health, enjoyment, friendship, challenge and achievement. Find out more on britishcanoeing.org.uk.

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