DORNEY, England ● New Zealand’s outspoken kayaker Ben Fouhy apologised on Monday for the foul-mouthed tirade he launched at the country’s sporting system and said he had got caught up in the moment minutes after crashing out of the London Games.
Known almost as much for a knack of finding himself in a fight as his kayaking prowess, the Athens silver medallist had earlier castigated sporting authorities in New Zealand for what he described as a lack of support coming into the Games.
Hours later he contacted Reuters to say he had spoken in haste.
“That was my Olympic dream, I’ve been working at that for 12 years,” a despondent-sounding Fouhy said in a telephone interview.
“That all came to an end in terms of this cycle when I crossed that finish line and three minutes later I’m speaking to journalists. I take responsibility for what I said and I regret what I said and the way that I said it.”
The 33-year-old Fouhy crashed out of the Games when he finished sixth from eight in the men’s 1,000 metre kayak single semi-final, more than four seconds behind the winner.
Coming straight off the water he walked to the press area and told how he had had to spend all his life savings in order to win the world title in 2003.
He said he trained six days a week, three times a day and had had to borrow money to pay his mortgage last year.
“I held a world record for five years and I’ve been a world champion,” he had said earlier on Monday.
“You have a lot of detractors out there who like to kick you when you’re down, but that’s New Zealand for you.”
World champion in 2003, Fouhy won a silver medal in Athens and finished fourth in Beijing. But his career has been marked by a string of clashes with sporting bodies over a range of issues from funding, coaching and the level of control he has over his own career. And he has quit twice before.
“The comments were not intended, it wasn’t something that I woke up this morning thinking that if things don’t go well I know who I’m going to blame,” he told Reuters.
“Hopefully people can empathise, that it may be regrettable but it’s human and it’s been a tough year for sure.
“I’m really proud to be a Kiwi and really proud to be part of a New Zealand team.
“It’s been hugely inspirational to be wearing the New Zealand track suit around and see New Zealanders compete in the way that they have. I in no way wanted to detract from that.”
Fouhy said he would now take time out after the Games but did not rule out returning to kayaking in the future.