Curtis McGrath once invited some Olympic canoe training colleagues to try the kayak model that is about to make its Paralympic debut.
They only lasted a few minutes.
The Australian has won the last two world titles in the VL3 category, which is the va’a, or outrigger, canoe.
While the extra hull offers greater stability, the lack of a rudder and the single-blade paddle means it’s a beast to steer.
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“I’ve had a couple of Olympic teammates try to jump in and have a go at it – they just don’t understand how it works,” he told AAP.
“They only jumped in for about five minutes after training and had a bit of a realisation.”
The addition of the VL3 category makes McGrath a big chance to become a double gold medallist at the Tokyo Games.
He’s also the four-time defending champion in the KL2 class – the single-hull canoe with a double-blade paddle – where McGrath won gold at the Rio Games as the sport made its Paralympics debut.
“The main goal would be to stand on the top step twice,” he said.
“Double gold would be the ultimate.
“But you have to be realistic about that. I haven’t competed internationally for almost two years.
“I haven’t been beaten (in the VL3 class), there’s always the potential. Things change and you can’t be a winner forever.”
He will have his KL2 and VL3 heats on Thursday.
McGrath is acutely aware that he’s the man to beat in his two events and there’s always the chance a smokey will spring a surprise in Tokyo.
He noted that’s exactly what he did to his competitors in 2014 and ’16.
But McGrath also looks at the bigger picture.
The 33-year-old from the Gold Coast lost his legs in August, 2012 – stepping on an IED while serving as an Australian Army combat engineer in Afghanistan.
“It’s just one of those things, you have to go there and do your best,” he said.
“A disabled person is part of an exclusive club that any person, anywhere in the world, can become a part of.
“Discriminating against a disabled person is almost discriminating something you can become a part of – it’s a little bit different to race and religion and culture.
“We all need to accept that sport is something that brings us all together and learn from that – push ourselves to be better.”