British gold medal prospect Tim Brabants – “I’ve the rest of my life to be a doctor”

The reigning champion kayaker has put his career on hold for one last shot at Olympic glory

Tim Brabants, Britain’s gold medal-winning kayaker, admits that he has an interesting hobby. When he’s not training, he sits in front of the television watching medical programmes and trying to guess what’s wrong with the patients.


“As soon as the patient starts listing their symptoms, I start my diagnosis and I try to work out what the problem is before the doctor in the programme does,” he says, with an embarrassed laugh. “I’m thrilled when I get it right.”

His words make more sense when you know that Brabants, 35, is an A&E doctor who’s put his medical career on hold to go for another Olympic gold. “I have the rest of my life to be a doctor again, but only limited time to be an athlete, so I have to do everything I can to train for the Games.”

Brabants was the first British sprint canoeist to win an Olympic medal when he took the bronze medal at his first Olympics in Sydney 2000, then finished a disappointing fifth in Athens before his gold in Beijing. “I’ve tasted defeat, in 2004,” he says. “I felt I‘d let a lot of people down. I don’t want that feeling again. I’ve had a few injuries, but I feel strong and I’ve been training hard. I just want to get started now.”


The canoeing men’s K1 1,000m final is on Wednesday 8 August at 9:30am. Watch it on BBC1 or BBC Olympics 4