It’s home waters rather than home soil that Jonny Dickson is planning on taking advantage of over the coming week and he’s confident that having such intimate knowledge of what he calls the toughest canoe slalom course in the world can help him produce the best performance of his career.

Today, the Canoe Slalom World Championships will begin at the venue at which Dickson trains day in, day out; Lee Valley White Water Centre on the outskirts of London. 

Originally from Livingston, Dickson has become an integral member of GB’s international canoe slalom squad over the past few years and these home World Championships could not be coming at a better time for the 23-year-old.

Having moved into GB’s senior squad this year with a stellar under-23 career behind him – silver and bronze medals at the under-23 World Championships were the highlights – Dickson has been encouraged by how he’s adapted to the demands of competing at the top level of a sport in which fractions of a second are the difference between triumph and disaster.

“Making the British team in itself is an achievement and because the standard is so high within the British squad, you are expected to perform well on the international stage,” he says. 

“Even before this season, I was aware of my ability but what’s been nice is to have had that verified.

“It’s been a pretty good season so far with two World Cup finals and I’m ranked eighth with just one race to go so that’s a good indication of consistency. 

There’s been disappointments but they’re all learning experiences and the way the sport is these days, with the standards being so high, the margins are so fine and it’s crazy how tight everyone is together in terms of times.”

Dickson’s impressive form this season bodes well for the coming week and the Scot goes into the biggest event on the 2023 calendar with the insider knowledge of the World Championships course at Lee Valley that only comes with being one of the select few who can call themselves GB internationalists.

And it is the experience he’s gleaned from having done literally thousands of runs down this week’s course that he hopes will help separate him from the field.

“Lee Valley is probably the most difficult course in the world so being familiar with it definitely helps. The sheer volume of the water is what makes it so tough – it’s really big and powerful. And there’s a lot of technical parts to the course too. 

“Knowing it so well is a huge advantage but with that, also comes an element of pressure because everyone will be expecting the Brits to perform.”

Dickson, who will race the K1, K1 team and CSLX events this week, is part of a GB squad that’s stacked with talent.

Also in action in the coming days will be Olympic gold medallist Joe Clarke as well as former world champions Mallory Franklin and Kimberley Woods.

Such pedigree makes it inevitable that expectations are high for the GB squad, with the men’s K1 team, of which Dickson will be a part, almost certain to be battling for silverware.

An individual K1 medal will be more of a challenge for the Scot but is something that, if all goes to plan on the day, is, Dickson believes, by no means out of the question.

“We’ve got high hopes in the team event – we’ve got three really strong boats so we’re optimistic of doing well. If we can get down the course without picking up any penalties, I’d like to think we can definitely be in the medals.” he says. 

“My expectations personally are definitely to make the final and then be pushing for medals, although I’m aware that that means I’ll have to produce a near perfect performance. But if I’m going to do that, it’s going to be here at Lee Valley. 

“Making the final is the first step then it’s about going for medals – everyone that’s on the start line in the final is capable of winning but that also means strong athletes will miss out on medals too.