With Tunisia providing the lion’s share of the paddlers representing the African continent at the Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games, few are more eager to make their mark on the ultimate paddling platform than C boat speedster Khaled Houcine.
The 26 year old made his Olympic debut at the Eton Dorney sprint course at London Games in the 200m C1 event, and since then has been working tirelessly at refinishing his form and technique to showcase his talent, and take his performance past the semi-final he made in 2012.
Houcine has accumulated a great deal of experience since London and has seen the standard of C-boat paddling in his home country dramatically improve, with compatriot Mohamed Seifallah Kendaoui the reigning junior African Champion.
“I am studying physical education, which definitely helps my paddling career at this level,” said Houcine.
“My family has been very supportive as well, which has made it possible for me to train for the Rio Olympics.”
After coming away from a thoroughly successful African Championships in South Africa in April, the Tunisian team has been working hard during the final preparation phase for the Rio showcase.
“We have prepared very well. We have been on a training camp for the last three months, and right now we are very optimistic about our chances,” he said from the team base in athletes village in Rio de Janeiro.
He shares much of his training time with kayakers Mohamed Ali Mramet and female kayaker Afef Ben Ismail, and as a unit they are excited about the opportunity to evidence the great strides being made in paddle sports on the African continent.
“I’m very thankful for this experience and have the chance to compete with the best athletes in the world.
“I hope that I will make my country, and my continent proud,” he added.