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Cantabrian Defies Odds To Get To World Champs

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Cantabrian Danielle Currie will compete at next month’s ICF (International Canoe Federation) Junior and U23 World Championships in Szeged, Hungary as part of New Zealand’s team.

Champion Kayak Sprinter Danielle has been chosen for the U23 team that comprises fellow Cantabrian Lucy Johnson and Auckland-based athletes Kayla Imrie and Kim Thompson.

Danielle has defied the odds as her original squad of eight women dwindled to two after the 2011 Earthquake – just her and Lucy. “Training is demanding and for many, it was too hard, too dark and too cold to continue.”

Danielle says her coach Leigh Barker has played a huge part in helping her stay focussed following the Earthquake: “Leigh gave up many hours of his own time to coach us in the cold and dark and kept us going when it got tough.”

Danielle trains daily for several hours in a mostly-male squad on the Avon River in Christchurch, braving the dark, and sometimes freezing temperatures: “We just put on more layers and go out into it.”

Danielle and Lucy Johnson are the only two women in the squad, which Danielle says fires their competitive spirit: “We try to drag race the boys. In a K2, Lucy and I are almost the same speed as Para canoer Scott Martlew and if we beat him, we tell him he’s too slow!”

Danielle has set her sights on the 2020 Olympics “New Zealand Kayaking now has a lot of determined, talented athletes with the same goal, so I still need to get faster, better and stronger to get there by 2020.”

Danielle is keen to follow in the footsteps of Olympic Gold Medallist Lisa Carrington, who will compete at the open World Championships in Moscow, Russia later this year: “So far, I have followed a similar path to Lisa and now she’s the world champion which is amazing.”

Danielle credits hard work and determination for her success so far: I’ve had to work hard to get what I want as I am not as naturally talented as some.”

Danielle’s coaching and on-water support is provided by Canoe Racing New Zealand, while some off-water support comes from High Performance Sport New Zealand (HPSNZ), including via the Prime Minister’s Scholarship programme.

Danielle has been awarded a Prime Minister’s Athlete Scholarship this year. HPSNZ also provides Danielle with free access sports-health services including physio and doctors’ appointments.

Support has also come from Danielle’s employers Gerry Barrett and Lance McCarthy of Gerry’s Wraps in Christchurch. “They’ve both been so flexible and let me leave when I’ve needed to go to training or have time off. It’s pretty amazing. My friends have said how lucky I am to work for them – it’s awesome.”

This is Danielle’s third year competing at a World Championships and she is aiming high: “Our team wants to be in the top nine U23 K4 women in the world.”

New Zealand’s team leaves on Sunday for Czech Republic, where they will train and acclimatise for a month before competing at the Championships in nearby Hungary on 17-21 July.


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