Top ca­noe sprinter is hop­ing for more

Southern Gazette (South Perth) - - SPORT -

KEWDALE kayaker Sha­nia Smee is pad­dling her way to the top.

The 17-year-old has com­peted in sprint and marathon events for nine years and scooped up mul­ti­ple state and na­tional medals.

“I started when I was eight; we got a pam­phlet in the mail,” Sha­nia said. “Dad thought ‘Yeah, that’d be cool for the kids to try out’ and I just kept go­ing from there.

“I was about 12 when I switched clubs to Bayswa­ter, which is re­ally fo­cused on sprint work. They’ve got a cou­ple of re­ally good coaches there and they re­ally en­cour­aged me to go fur­ther with it.”

The Ursula Frayne Catholic Col­lege stu­dent trains up to six morn­ings a week and also vol­un­teers as a coach.

Her kayak­ing has taken her around the coun­try and the world, with the young ath­lete head­ing to Poland when she was 15 to com­pete against 24 other coun­tries in the Olympic Hopes Re­gatta.

“It was prob­a­bly less nerve-rack­ing than I thought it would be,” she said. “I thought I was go­ing to be so stressed, but you get on the wa­ter and you’ve done it so many times that when you get on to the line, you’re pretty calm.

“I try not to think about too much; one of my coaches taught me to take deep breaths, clear my mind, and think about noth­ing but the first three strokes.”

Sha­nia is part of the AIS and Aus­tralian Ca­noe Sprint Team, and has been named in the 2017 Aus­tralian Olympic Hopes Team set to tour the Czech Repub­lic in Septem­ber.

The teenager said it was an in­cred­i­ble feel­ing to be able to rep­re­sent her coun­try in the sport she loves.

“It’s re­ally cool; not many peo­ple get the op­por­tu­nity, so to be able to do that is amaz­ing,” she said. “I want to go to the Olympics, maybe in 2024.”

Sha­nia is cur­rently rais­ing money to as­sist in coach­ing, equip­ment and as­so­ci­ated costs to reach her goal. Visit asf.org.au/ath­letes/sha­nia-smee.

Sha­nia Smee is tour­ing the Czech Repub­lic in Septem­ber.

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