RISING: Bernadette Wallace is aiming to make her mark at the world championships, which are under way in Germany.
RISING: Bernadette Wallace is aiming to make her mark at the world championships, which are under way in Germany. John Mccutcheon

Big brother shows way to the worlds

BERNADETTE  Wallace cannot remember a time when the water hasn't been an important part of her life, and she shudders at the thought there may be a time in the future when she will spend more hours on land than in the liquid medium she loves.

The surf lifesaving champion was 13 when she began competing for the Currumbin Creek Paddlers Club, having decided to take up the sport after older brother Ken won a junior world championship.

"I thought it was so cool that he was a world champion at something, even though at the time I didn't even know what the sport was about," she said.

"I decided to try it and found I liked it, and best of all, this gangly, awkward kid was actually good at it.

"Two years later I started training seriously in the kayak and I suppose the rest, as they say, is history."

Wallace, who celebrated her 24th birthday earlier this month, said she hoped to make her own mark in the sport at the 2013 world championships, which started in Germany Tuesday night.

Scheduled to compete in the K2 events with fellow Queenslander Naomi Flood, and also in the K4, Wallace is using the championships as the start of her 2016 Olympic preparations.

"To qualify for Rio we have to get a top-six spot at the world champs in 2016, but there are a lot of steps to achieving that," she said.

"Your fitness has to be excellent and all the technicalities of your race worked out, and also you have to be consistently achieving those results.

"So we have set 2015 as the year by which everything has to come together for us - so there is a lot of work to do.

"We don't want to get to the world champs in 2016 and be unsure about qualifying. We just want to be able to go out there and blitz it."

Olympic medals are not a rarity in the Wallace household. Ken won a gold in the K1 500 and bronze in the K1 1000 at the Beijing Games in 2008.

Having an Olympian in the family can often come with a whole host of expectations that can hinder the career of the person following in their wake, but Wallace has chosen to use it as an inspiration.

"I've always thought that going to the Games is the greatest celebration of being an athlete you can have," she said.

"Naturally, there are the comparisons with Ken, but I look at it as a positive thing. He made an Olympic medal seem possible for me. I think if he can do it, why can't I? We have the same genes, the same support structure ... and I'm better looking than him."