Sportswoman of the Year Award – Kayla Imrie

How did you get into your sport?

I got into my sport through a pathway of many codes. It started off with me being a swimmer for 12 years (over time racing for both Naenae and Tawa pool swim squads) while also dabbling in a bit of netball (Naenae collegian united). Word got around to a netballer that I could swim so she invited me to join the summer sport of surf lifesaving at Paekakariki surf club once the winter court season ended. At the age of 14 I started surf lifesaving which introduced me to paddling a surf ski which is practically a kayak for the surf. For a whole year I couldn’t sit in the thing without falling out and it got to me so much that I returned every session to “beat” the craft. As summer passed and the water got cold we turned to paddling in an “actual” kayak to keep our base training up for surf. It mean’t we could do longer km’s without freezing our fingers off. That’s if you could stay in the boat which is 10 times harder to sit in than a ski. Within the first year of paddling in a kayak I gave racing a go and was asked to represent NZ at the Australian Youth Olympic Festival in Sydney at the age of 16. I competed in the K4 500m event and came away with a Bronze medal, ever since that moment the spark to compete at the Olympic game ignited.

What was your greatest achievement this year?

My greatest achievement within the last year was getting two silver medals in the K2 200m and K4 500m at our World Championships in Portugal.

What advice would you give a young athlete?

My advise to any athlete would be to always remain open to learning and build your toolbox so you always have ways to challenge yourself towards improvement.

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