High-fiving complete strangers | April's blog

Published 1 September 2016 (AEDT) | Author Alyce Burnett

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - AUGUST 15: Alyce Burnett (R) and Alyssa Bull (L) of Australia celebrate qualifying for the Final A after competing in the Canoe Sprint Women's Kayak Double 500m Semifinal 1 on Day 10 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at Lagoa Stadium on August 15, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. © 2016 Getty Images

For my sister Alyce, the goal of making the Olympics has been the bread and butter of her years and years worth of blood, sweat and once-a-year-beers. 

Rio 2016 was her initiation to the Olympic world after dreaming of reaching such a pinnacle every single day for the last 10 years. I was personally blessing Alyce and her paddling partner Alyssa all the good luck that my soul had to give. In order to grant them this, I had to give up a few of my own lucky charms. 

After spending only 2 hours in the beautiful county of Brazil, our posse had managed to break two doors, force a bed to split down the middle and set the bathroom on fire, resulting in a broken shower and four very tired travellers. 

My first reaction to this debacle was 'Shut the front door!' But I couldn't. The front door of our apartment didn't even lock.

Although we initially had no bed to sleep on, no shower and a compromised sense of safety, our spirits were not down. We were there to watch team Aus and the excitement was not going to be over-shadowed by anything. 

On my fourth day in Rio, Christ the Redeemer obviously conferred with the big guy to bless me with water for a shower. Not only did I shed tears of happiness, but I also shed two layers of dirt and concluded that the Brazilian sun wasn't the only thing accountable for my new found tan. 

This was a good sign - Alyce and Alyssa were racing in the K2 500 the next day and I could feel that the luck of the AB's was improving. On the strength of it, I said 2 hail mary's before I went to sleep - whatever that is.

After progressing through the heats, the two girls fought hard in the semi final to gain third position - just enough to allow them to qualify for the final. I honestly can't put into words the excitement that was experienced. Our crowd of supporters in green and gold went absolutely crazy. Even my 16 year old brother who shows no emotion was high-fiving complete strangers. More importantly, Alyce and Alyssa were over the moon - I've never seen two people happier in one moment. That's something that they will share forever.

The final was always going to be a hard ask for our girls. To put it in perspective, they placed 16th at the World Titles in 2015. And by making the final, 8th was the worst they could finish in the Olympics! It was a dream come true. 

Sprint kayaking is essentially a European sport, and our girls were the only non-Europeans in the field. Many of the girls in the field could benchpress a shetland pony. 

The two ended up crossing the line in 8th place and after a bit of disappointment in their placing, they were absolutely stoked to be there! Paddling in an Olympic final was the ultimate goal for the ABs and it was a cosmic experience to watch them and their kayaking team mates fulfil this dream. 

Talk of Tokyo has already started. After all, the girls are spring chickens by international kayaking standards. But for now, I can cross Rio off my bucket list and breathe a sigh of relief that my beautiful sister has fulfilled her lifelong dream.

April Burnett

<h5>Alyce Burnett</h5>
&copy; Getty Images Alyce Burnett

Alyce Burnett

<h5>Alyssa Bull hero image</h5>
&copy; Getty Images Alyssa Bull

Alyssa Bull

Canoe/Kayak - Sprint

Canoe/Kayak - Sprint

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