As Daniel Watkins finalises form ahead of his Olympic debut, the Tasmanian paddler is also laying the foundation for a follow-up trip to Paris.
One of three Australians nominated for selection to this year's rescheduled Games, the Grove 25-year-old is leading the way in the extreme canoe slalom event set to be introduced onto the Olympic program in the French capital in 2024.
As Australia's Tokyo Olympic team of Watkins and NSW pair Jessica Fox and Lucien Delfour made the most of a rare racing opportunity with the Penrith Open Canoe Slalom Series, the Derwent Canoe Club member claimed early bragging rights in the new canoe discipline which involves a thrilling head-to-head format.
"It was really fun racing the 'extreme' slalom for the first time in Australia," Watkins said.
"I've raced plenty of extreme races on real rivers around the world and I think the format needs some work but there's plenty of time till Paris and I'm keen to see where the sport goes."
The Tasmanian secured the C1 Tokyo spot after nabbing bronze at the 2020 Australian Open Canoe Slalom which doubled as the final Olympic selection round.
With the Games five months away, Watkins also led the series in the men's C1 after two weekends and has also been thankful for the racing opportunity.
"It's been pretty good, we've been getting better each weekend. It's been pretty much a whole year since I've last raced and it's been good having these races back to back, Saturdays and Sundays. It's awesome getting on that many start lines really.
"There's no internationals here this year but all Australians are paddling really well and are really competitive and it's always good to race them."
Held over three weekends at Penrith Whitewater Stadium, the series was put together by Paddle Australia in response to ongoing travel restrictions, to offer events instead of the International Australian Open and Sydney International Whitewater Festival, which usually take place this time of year.
Watkins is one of five Tasmanians nominated for selection to Tokyo along with Perth track cyclist Georgia Baker, King Island runner Stewart McSweyn, Launceston triathlete Jake Birtwhistle and Huon rower Sarah Hawe. West Pine track cyclist Amy Cure was also named but has since retired.
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