Great Britain's most successful Olympic kayaker Liam Heath has been using Precision Hydration since his Sweat Test back in 2012 and we were delighted to make things official as he became the latest elite athlete to join Team PH.

The 2016 Rio Gold Medallist is refining his hydration strategy in preparation for the Olympic Games in Tokyo and we caught up with him to find out how taking a step back from individual racing gave him a renewed appetite for a third Olympic Games...

You’ll be heading into the Olympic Games as World Champion and the man to beat after winning the gold medal in the K1 200m event at Rio in 2016. How does your past success impact on your mindset for Tokyo and what are your expectations for next year? 

I’ve had an incredible career and my past success, the training knowledge and experience I've gained, gives me the the confidence that I'm continuing to develop and be the best I can possibly be.

I’ve always set out to push myself to the limits to see how fast I can paddle and I have the exact same mindset heading into Tokyo. I'm not sure what to expect next year as it’s a very challenging time for many and it's definitely going to be very different to years gone by, but I'm just looking to maximise every session and opportunity in order to perform at my best at the Games.

Image Credit: Balint Vekassy ©

You enjoyed a fantastic Rio Olympics which also saw you win two medals, including the silver in the K2 200m with Jon Schofield. How did you feel about the K2 being removed from the Games for 2021? 

I feel that the K2 200m is a fantastic event that displays the speed and power of our sport and was gutted to see it removed from the Olympic program. But I may be a bit biased...  

The birth of your daughter Sarah Rose in 2017 meant you took a year out from competing in the individual event. Since setting your sights on retaining your Olympic title in 2018, you’ve been in formidable form. Could your time away from racing the K1 prolong your career in the long term?

2017 was a fantastic year and the 2018 season brought a lot of changes and challenges. Personally, 2018 was mainly about adapting and learning to be a father and how training might work alongside family life.

Taking a step back from the individual event gave me time to think about my future within the sport. It re-ignited my motivation to compete at a third Olympic Games and see what I might still be capable of, so the “recharge” definitely helped prolong my career.

Stepping back also gave me an insight into what adaptations to training and support might be needed to achieve this goal and identify the things that are most important.

Since 2018 I have had a renewed determination and attitude towards every aspect of training and how that impacts my prep for racing at my best. 

Image Credit: Liam Heath ©

How has the postponement of the Olympics and the lack of races this year impacted on the way you’ve trained during 2020? 

This year has been really tough for a lot of people and I've had to adapt my training quite a bit due to lack of access to facilities and lack of key events that you would normally be aiming towards.

Training shifted to more of a maintenance strategy with a focus on staying safe, healthy, and injury-free, ready to pick training back up again when conditions allowed. 

We got an insight into your fantastic training set-up during your on-nomi with Jonny during lockdown - what does a typical week of training look like?

A typical training week normally consists of 15 sessions; a mixture of paddling and gym sessions that compliment each other to develop strength and speed.

In the lead-up to major events, training volume is removed but intensity and focus is increased, with the ultimate aim of physically peaking for that important race.

And how will you prepare for the heat and humidity of Tokyo? 

The heat and humidity out in Japan is going to be a massive challenge! I've experienced simulated conditions in a heat chamber but most of the preparation and adaption to the conditions will be done at a pre-Olympic training camp.

I have a great team also looking into cooling strategies and innovations to help me compete at my best out in Japan. 

Image Credit: Bence Vekassy ©

Are the conditions in Japan a key reason for your decision to team up with Precision Hydration? 

Being at your best requires you to make sure everything is functioning perfectly, and hydration is a massive part of physical performance, so teaming up with Precision Hydration, accessing their experience and knowledge, is an absolutely fantastic opportunity for me.

I imagine this gets brought up quite a lot but you worked as a barman at TGI Friday’s earlier in your career - what was your signature cocktail? PH 1500 is ideal for curing hangovers the morning after a night of heavy celebrations by the way… or so we’ve heard…

It was great fun being a bartender and I think my favourite cocktail to make would have to be a raspberry mojito, but to celebrate a race win I keep it simple and opt for a beer. 

Great tip for a hangover cure using PH 1500, I'll keep it in mind!

Excellent, hopefully that PH 1500 will come in handy after a night of celebrating a gold medal in Tokyo!