Finn Butcher is nearly ready to say ‘‘bonjour’’ to his ultimate dream.
The Central Otago whitewater paddler has qualified a spot for a New Zealand man at the Olympics in Paris next year.
He needed to finish in the top 15 in the K1 event at the world canoe/kayak slalom championships in London at the weekend, and he held his nerve to finish 13th, just 0.8sec outside the final.
‘‘I’m in two minds about that performance,’’ Butcher told the Otago Daily Times from London.
‘‘It was really nice to lay down a clean run with no big errors.
‘‘But I didn’t feel super good on the water. I actually felt a bit hesitant.
‘‘It was almost like too much flow and not enough go, ha ha. Sounds a bit cliched.
‘‘I didn’t really have any pop in the arms. Probably just a bit of stress.
‘‘But I’m happy to finish inside the quota spot, and 13th in the world is not a bad result. That’s my personal best at a world champs in slalom, so I’m happy with that.’’
It is about as easy for the layman to understand who will now take that quota spot in Paris as it is to navigate one of those whitewater courses.
Butcher has done the hard work in earning the spot for a paddler in a black singlet, but he does not get that place as of right.
The world championships, held on the Lee Valley course that featured at the 2012 Olympics, earned him ‘‘a bit of a bonus’’.
But he will still need to perform well at racing in Australia (January) and Auckland (February) to book his dream ticket to France.
‘‘If I’d been in the final, that would have been all over, which would have been nice.’’
Butcher’s world ranking before the London event was 21st, and he had to battle against some exceptional rowers.
The strength of the men’s field was highlighted by the fact some of the bigger European nations missed out on quota spots.
New Zealand also earned a place in the women’s field in Paris after Luuka Jones finished ninth.
Butcher needs to find a little more in the tank for racing in France this week before heading home to Alexandra.
‘‘It’s been a pretty long season — I’ve been away almost five months.
‘‘Now we go to Paris for the final world cup race. It’s also a test event for the Olympics, so it’s at the Olympic venue, and running on an Olympic schedule.
‘‘Then we finally head home to New Zealand.
‘‘It’s been a long time and I’m looking forward to getting back to Central.’’