I introduce to you, Laurens Pannecoucke.
The first memory I have of Laurens Pannecoucke, brings me to the spring of 2005. A group of juniors and “aspirants” from different belgium clubs were in Hazewinkel, to know the candidates to belong, in future, to the Belgian National Team. Laurens differed from most of the other guys not only for his “latin look”, but also for his athletic and robust appearance.
In February 2009, Laurens, in his first season as a member of the Belgium Senior National Team, was already testing in K-2 with Olivier as a “marker”, in a winter training camp in Portugal. The tests were not bad, but at that time I could not think that, that crew could succeed for the “London 2012 Olympic challenge.” Laurens went on training his K-1 with surprising results in training and internal test, and irregular performance in World Cups Regatas, European and World Senior Championships, in the 2009 and 2010. In October 2010 after reaching a more than “interesting” fifth position in the K-1 1000m in the European U-23 Championship in Moscow, Laurens told me that the K-2 1000m would be his main goal for the 2011 season. From October 2010 until April 2011 Laurens fought with an excelent attitude in an open selection process to form the strongest K-2 1000 m crew with three other major candidates in the ”fight”: Olivier Cauwenbergh, Bob Maesen and Wouter D’Haene. Before that selection process was finished, for Laurens it was clear that in any crew in which he was, with any of the other three potential crew mates, that would be the fastest one. When the selection process finished, it was like that.
Step by step, Laurens has specialized and getting convinced that he can be a great paddler in Olympic disciplines. I say this because I am not completely sure that flat-water canoeing is the type of Canoeing that he likes more. For sure that he knows that flat-water canoeing is, at least, the most relevant. Laurens has progressed much on the track in the last three seasons, look askance at the same time what happens in the environment of the marathon. If he ever tells a “story” that has left good memories in a regatta, this has happened in a marathon. You can feel that, in that environment, he feels especially comfortable and he enjoys.
So, now you can understand that Laurens is a tough guy. Tough, in the literal sense of the word. I have mentioned before some physical qualities that adorn Laurens. If any psychological quality struck me, after some training camps together, it was his “ability to suffer.” Sometimes I have to “investigate” beyond what he tells me, in relation to his fatigue level, to confirm that he is not training more than he should. For Laurens expressions like: “I’m tired …” “I can´t do more …” “This session has been very hard …”, or similar, are prohibitive. It took some time to convince him that certain types of training are beneficial for his performance and not “training for sissies.” Anyway, Laurens has advanced greatly in his “trainability.”
All coaches analyze in detail the “tapering” of the athletes. Until we are in competition, any unexpected data can make us doubt whether we have touched the right buttons in the “tapering”. In the case of Laurens (also with Olivier), I live much more quiet this “pre-competitive” time because Laurens is a great competitor. He is very “cheeky” competing. The result at the finish line will be a true reflection of his real performance level (value) at that time. All indications show that he is going to reach London 2012 in his best shape.
Hazewinkel; july the 23th, 2012