It was a dream inspired by the men’s K4 crew at the London 2012 Olympic Games. Four years later, sprint kayaker Riley Fitzsimmons was living out his own Olympic dreams.
“The burning aspiration of me wanting to be an Olympian started very, very young,” Fitzsimmons said.
“Every four years you’d sit up with your family late at night watching the Olympics. You’d watch Australia win gold medals and see what it means to those athletes, and the passion they show for representing their country. It’s really quite inspiring for a young person watching that.
“I started surf lifesaving when I was five years old and paddling surf skis when I was 16.
“I had always dreamt about going to an Olympic Games, and then I found kayaking. That was going to be the pathway I chose to go to the Olympics.
“When I picked up the paddle in 2012, and saw what the London 2012 crew did at the Olympics when they won gold, it really lit a fire inside of me and it motivated me to be like those guys, and to chase that kind of achievement,” he said.
Fitzsimmons has represented Australia at two Olympic Games (Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2020), and is preparing to make his return to the international stage this weekend at the 2023 ICF World Cup in Szeged Hungary.
“I had a year off after Tokyo and I really wanted to step away from the sport, and have a think about resetting and refocusing on what are my goals, what are my values,” Fitzsimmons said.
“I think it was really good for me to be out of that environment for a year, get back to working, enjoying life and come back to the sport with a fresh mindset of being really grateful of what we’re able to do every single day,” he said.
Not only is Fitzsimmons looking forward to getting back onto the international start line, but pulling back on the green and gold, as he and his teammates continue to build towards the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.
“It’s super special putting on the green and gold, as soon as you slip on that singlet and the racing bib and you’ve got the coat of arms on your chest, you’re thinking about what your journey looked like, the process it took to get to this point,” Fitzsimmons said.
“I still have my number one goal of winning an Olympic medal and that’s what I’m still striving for every single day that I turn up to training…I’m pushing myself to be better.
“It’s really quite special and a proud moment to slip on the green and gold that’s for sure,” he said.