Hi, my name is Annie Wardle and I am a canoe slalom athlete
I am 16 years old and have recently been selected to represent New Zealand in the Junior Worlds as part of the Junior New Zealand team. This event will be held in Bratislava, Slovakia, in July.
Canoe slalom is an amazing sport which involves navigating a course of upstream and downstream gates hanging over whitewater in the fastest time.
When I was 9 years old my dad took me in a plastic river kayak down the upper Nevis River which has tiny little rapids and it was so much fun! I was 12 years old when I had my very first canoe slalom experience at the Alexandra Blossom Festival fun slalom race put on by the local Club and designed to attract beginners into the sport. It did exactly that- I loved it! From this day onwards I became addicted to the sport and the great support and coaching I received through the club has seen me graduate from taking a few lessons a week on flat water to paddling 6 times a week to develop the necessary whitewater skills.
When I was 13, I was selected to be a part of the U18 NZ Development Squad and was given the opportunity to compete at the Australian secondary schools and nationals- my first overseas kayaking trip. I think it was this experience which triggered my dream to one day make the junior team and compete at Worlds. I’m thrilled that my dream is coming true.
This year has been challenging. I won gold at the NZ Open and silver at the Oceania Championships and was the top K1-women’s paddler from the Oceania region. Due to these results I am now part of the NZ junior team. However, in the recent Nationals at Kawerau, I didn’t do so well. This experience has introduced me to the highs and lows of high level competitive sport and just makes me even more determined to improve.
My biggest goal for this year is not entirely based on results but instead on self improvement. I think the whole experience will benefit me in many ways including my motivation, diligence with school work, maintaining a healthy balance in my life and of course developing my skills in my sport. I want to make the U18 Team again next year, and be part of the U23 (Senior) team in the future.
I hope to spend 4 weeks in Europe, to get the necessary training and racing experience before the Junior World championships. The trip will cost about $8800 and I also need $3200 for a new boat and paddle- up until now I have made do with second hand equipment.
My parents have always been very supportive of me, both financially and taking me kayaking in the South Island and to races in the North Island each year. However, now my journey is taking me to Europe, the costs are getting too expensive for me and my parents.
Over the years, I have worked in waitressing, orchard work and been a part of many fundraising efforts, including picking up rocks at local farms to contribute to these costs. I have already raised $800 of my own through my work for this trip.
I will continue to work when I can to help towards the cost of this trip, but it would be greatly appreciated if you would consider supporting me. Thank you.