The slalom paddler, locked in for the K1 spot in Team GB, has relished giving back to his sport and becoming fitter than ever during lockdown. But it hasn't come easy.

At the end of February - before lockdown - his father suffered a stroke and subsequently contracted COVID-19 in hospital.

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Forbes-Cryans senior is back home recovering now, but it was a deeply troubling start to what was meant to be a dream 2020 for his son.

"Through my dad, my eyes were opened pretty early on as to how significant the impact of the virus was going to be," said the 25-year-old.

"I went to hospital to see him twice before the lockdown and that was it really, it had to be FaceTime after that.

"Hopefully now we're going to see some sort of return to normality.

"For me my whole life is about sport and this was all set to be one of the biggest years of my life - for that to be put on hold was understandably difficult.

"I’d worked for 15 years to put myself in this position but with that all going on hold I’ve tried to take the positives.

"I’m still a young athlete on the international circuit and so another 12 months of preparation time we've turned into a positive."

Forbes-Cryans has had his spot for Tokyo rubber-stamped after initial selection last October.

It came weeks after putting down the run of his life to finish fourth in the kayak single at the World Championships.

The Edinburgh native beat some of the world’s biggest names in the process, and despite the hiatus of COVID-19, is positioning himself to reach even higher.

"I think during lockdown I gave myself more of a period of mental recovery rather than physical recovery," he added.

"I wasn't so focused on say, normally I would have a really strict diet.

"I wasn’t too concerned at being religious with it as I normally would be.

"A bit of junk food, it's a little bit relaxing almost, a few beers on Saturday nights speaking to people over Zoom!

"Trying to give myself a bit of a mental recovery and then I feel as fit as I ever have been, and really looking forward to getting back to Lee Valley.

"My training early on was getting out every day for a 30-minute jog, British Canoeing sorted out getting some weights to my home – a lot of weights!

"I'm as strong as I've ever been. Running was about making gains wherever possible, so my aerobic fitness has raised drastically, it's at an all-time high and my gym numbers – they're stronger than I’ve ever been in my life."

Forbes-Cryans has come a long way from CR Cats Canoe Club in Alva, Scotland, a breeding ground for Team GB stars in the past.

He's set to become the fourth paddler from the club to represent Team GB, following in the footsteps of double Olympian Fiona Pennie, 2004 Olympic silver medallist Campbell Walsh and C2 paddler Craig Brown.

He continued: "I think especially with my style of paddling I think I have a lot of feel for the water, so being off it until a few weeks ago hasn't been a problem, then I started going over to a little flatwater site in Harefield.

"It’s got some really good gates there and there's been quite a few youngsters on the water.

"It's been quite nice to spend some time with them because they know who I am and they’re like, 'Oh my god, what are you doing here?!'.

"So that's been nice, just being able to give back a little bit to the sport as well.

"But for me now it's just trying to make the most of the situation and chase that dream again, another 12 months and I can't wait to be sitting on that start line at Tokyo 2020."

Sportsbeat 2020

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