Johnson takes on Tahiti race
LOCAL outrigger competitor , Monique Johnson has represented Australia in IVF Va’a World Championships in Tahiti and nabbed second place in the 27km iron race yesterday.
New Zealand took home the gold, Australia just behind them with silver and Tahiti placed third.
It was a close battle between second and third.
Australia overtook the host nation in the final moments to steal second by a boat length.
A total of 33 countries are in Tahiti, a birthplace of outrigging, hoping to pick up the gold. “It’s exciting to be in a country that holds that sport in a very high regard, it’s pretty much their national sport,” Monique said.
“After the event I had three days to enjoy the culture, a bit of shopping and snorkelling.
“They’ve got beautiful blue water there and no crocs!
“When I train at Four Mile I’m a bit weary, I usually go in the middle of the day so I can see what’s going on and make sure I paddle fast enough so they can’t catch me,” Monique said.
The road to the championship was hard fought and a journey Monique, who started paddling 11 years ago, didn’t expect.
“I just took it up as something to do and to be a bit social – I didn’t really expect this,” she said.
“It was a full-on process. We made up a team with girls from Mackay, Townsville, Gold Coast and Brisbane and placed an interest to race in the championship.
“We went town to Sydney and we won, which was a bit of a shock and we said ‘well I guess we’re going’.
“I was pretty excited to even get into what you would describe as the dream team.
“This was my first time in a competition like this,” Monique said.
To race in a world championship you have to be a national titleholder, which Monique won last year on the Gold Coast in a 46km mixed changeover.
Monique also pushed through her pretty tough training regimen, four days a week she goes out for a paddle and every morning she does weights, bootcamp or a run.
Monique hopes to encourage young people to take up “non traditional” sports.
“It’d be good to see some younger people from this area doing some paddling sports because you can travel to some beautiful places.
“Stand up paddleboarding, ocean skis and outriggers all have so many fantastic international competitions that I think a lot of people wouldn’t even have a clue about.
“It would be great to expand some minds,” she said.