Women off to World Championships in Tahiti
March 1, 2018
Age is just a number for women off to World Championships in Tahiti
“Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter” – Mark Twain.
The women of the Heretaunga Iron Maidens Waka Ama team definitely don’t mind after recently qualifying for the World Waka Ama Championships in Tahiti this July. Sport Hawke’s Bay caught up with Hillary Scott-Ker, the youngest member of the squad, about the teams’ admirable achievements.
Most of the women on the team have been paddling for 5-6 years for various reasons. Scott-Ker only found the sport last year when she went along to a give-it-a-go evening at Clive River. She was looking for a team sport that would provide something a little easier on the joints than running.
Soon enough she had heard that a group of women had set their targets on the World Championships in Tahiti. With much her competitiveness she had said to the club instructor “I want to be in that Waka.”
“Well you’ll have to earn your spot,” said Roy Boone, coach of the Iron Maidens.
She set to work and 12 months later that’s where she ended up.
“To be part of a team with these women is an incredible experience,” said Scott-Ker. “Each of us are so focused, driven and competitive. It’s been extraordinary to find kindred souls of this age group.”
The team that will be paddling in the Senior Masters women’s age group (50-60) at the World Championships had to achieve a top-6 placing in their events at the New Zealand Championships in January. The Hawke’s Bay women came away with a silver medal in the W12 and a sixth place in the W500, qualifying for the World Champs in two events.
What’s even more incredible to think is that a couple of the paddlers had been diagnosed with Breast Cancer in the past. For Scott-Ker, she emphasizes the importance of not letting breast cancer define who she is. “Women in our age group are still capable of competing at a high level - it just takes determination, commitment and a great group of likeminded individuals.”
The team, made up of Gaylene Moore, Karen Skipper-Hawaikitangi, Roberta Brown, Moana Whenuroa, Ngamata Maeva and Scot-Ker, will be looking for ways to fund their World Championship target over the next few months.
With such inspiring leaders in the Waka Ama community, Sport Hawke’s Bay hopes this level of determination and commitment rubs off on other young girls and women wanting to follow in their footsteps.