Hutt kayaker earns NZ se­lec­tion early


A Hutt Val­ley kayaker says her years of hard work are start­ing to pay off, af­ter mak­ing the New Zealand Un­der 23 Kayak K4 sprint team at only 17 years old.

Gemma Wool­cock will race against the world’s best in the Un­der 23 Ca­noe Sprint World Cham­pi­onships, July 28-31 in Minsk, Be­larus.

‘‘I’m re­ally sur­prised and happy, I didn’t ex­pect to make it,’’ the Sa­cred Heart Col­lege stu­dent said.

‘‘I’ve never been any­where out­side of New Zealand be­sides Australia so this is go­ing to be a com­pletely new, amaz­ing ex­pe­ri­ence for me.’’

Gemma’s cur­rent train­ing con­sists of six ses­sions out on the wa­ter ev­ery week, as well as run­ning and go­ing to the gym.

It’s hard to fit it all in. ‘‘I live and go to school in the Hutt and train in Porirua for kayak­ing and Welling­ton for the gym [but] I man­age it with ex­tra early morn­ing wake ups.’’

Be­fore Gemma and the un­der 23 Women’s K4 team head to the world champs in Be­larus they’ll train on Lake Kara­piro, then in Slove­nia for three weeks.

Kayak­ing is ‘‘huge’’ in Be­larus and the chal­lenge ahead is tough but Gemma said she was train­ing with a great bunch and they had be­come friends.

‘‘We all un­der­stand each other and can sup­port and push each other along. We’ll keep each other mo­ti­vated dur­ing train­ing and com­pe­ti­tions.’’

Gemma got into kayak­ing a few years ago to help train for surf ski events at the Ti­tahi Bay Surf Life Sav­ing Club.

Since then, she’s been train­ing and com­pet­ing with the Mana Kayak Rac­ing Club in Porirua.

Her goal is to con­tinue to im­prov­ing her kayak­ing and to work­ing through the pro­grammes New Zealand has to of­fer.

‘‘I hope that I can keep mak­ing the New Zealand team again af­ter this year and the ul­ti­mate dream would be to one day make it to the Olympics.

‘‘That would be ab­so­lutely amaz­ing.’’

Early morn­ing train­ing ses­sions on the wa­ter in Porirua have paid off for kayaker Gemma Wool­cock.

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