John­son takes on Tahiti race

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - SPORT - Gizelle Ghidella

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.

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