After taking a bit of time out to soak up their achievements in Rio, Olympic medallists Luuka Jones and Sam Meech have set their sights on their next big challenges.
Jones, whose silver medal in the K100 Canoe Slalom was one of the Games’ nice surprises, will chase double glory in Tokyo in 2016, while bronze medallist Laser sailor Meech is out to conquer a massive 200+ boat world championships fleet.
Both will be powered by Sanitarium’s Up & Go after linking with the company in a promotion that will provide a money-can’t-buy experience for two lucky Kiwis.
“For me at the moment life is busy, so having an Up & Go to just pick up and know you are getting a good nutritional boost before or after training is pretty handy,” says Jones.
“My training involves just the physical side of things but the mental side as well. You’ve got to fuel yourself for both physical and mental gains. So nutrition is hugely important. Nutrient timing, making sure that you are fuelled enough for your session and then to recover from your session, is crucial. You do notice when your nutrition is on point and when it is not. I do suffer on the days I where I am not as stringent.”
Meech is also a big Up & Go fan (like Jones his favourite flavour is vanilla).
“I do group bike rides around the North Shore that start at 5.30am,” he says. “I try to wake up five minutes before I have to leave, so an Up & Go is perfect as I’m rushing out the door.
“My flatmate was a professional swimmer and he used to buy huge boxes of it because he’d be up so early to go to training. I used to sneak them off the shelf. But now he has stopped swimming I have to buy my own!”
Thanks to Up & Go producer Sanitarium, one lucky Kiwi will win a white water experience with Jones.
“Hold on tight and don’t fall out!” is Jones’ advice to whomever gets the chance to tackle the rapids with her at Auckland’s Wero Whitewater Park.
“I’ve taken a couple of people down the course at Wero and it is really exciting,” she says. “It is exciting for me to give someone else a taste of what I do. And I guess it is exciting for them because it is such a changeable environment. There is a lot going on out there and being white water it is pretty powerful and exhilarating.”
The reward for another lucky Kiwi will be a day out on the water with Meech. Squeezing on board his solo-sailed laser might be a be bit tight, but Meech has something cool up his sleeve that he isn’t quite ready to reveal.
Changes to Olympic rules mean Jones will now be able to compete in both a canoe (where you kneel on the craft and have a single bladed paddle as opposed to sitting in a kayak and using a double-bladed paddle, she explains) and the kayak discipline in which she meddled in Rio.
Chasing success in two disciplines may be a challenge, but it is one the 28-year-old is up for.
Her medal in Rio may have surprised a few people but Jones herself was confident she could land a place on the podium.
Moving to Nottingham, England at the age of 18 to train alongside the English squad as a full-time athlete was the key to her success.
“It made a huge difference, learning how to be a high performance athlete and being able to dedicate every day to getting better.
“I knew that I was capable of doing that and so did my coach and people around me in the sport. But it was quite nice to be an underdog going into the Olympics. There were too many people putting their hopes on me for a medal.”
That certainly won’t be the case in Tokyo in 2020.
Meech, meanwhile, is taking things year-by-year. The 25-year-old’s next goal is to win a world championship – an even tougher ask than medalling at the Olympics as countries can have more than one competitor, swelling the fleet to over 200 world class sailors.
If anyone can do it, though, it is Meech. Having spent much of his childhood (aged 7-12) on a yacht sailing around the world with his parents and Sister Molly (also a medallist in Rio in the 49er-FX class), Sam’s background could hardly be more nautical.
“Mum and Dad did most of the sailing, Molly and I were just along for the ride,” he says.
That changed when the Meech family returned to settle in New Zealand.
After a stint in land-locked Hamilton – when they got their sailing fix on the city’s lake – the family relocated to Mount Maunganui, with the siblings diving straight into competitive racing.
Sam quickly graduated from the P-class to the laser – and never looked back.
“The laser is the boat that you see at people’s baches,” he said. “The boat I race is exactly the same. It is the most competitive class of racing. That’s why I love it.”