Defending waka ama champs share secrets to success

Top W1 paddlers from across the country competed at Lake Karāpiro to see who will be crowned New Zealand's No.1 at the TWOA Waka Ama National Sprints.  With over 100 races to get through and a delayed start due to fog and weed in the lake, the racing is still going.

Lots of competition out on the water today.  Today though, Te Kāea sought out some of the defending champs to find out the secret to their success.

Champions aren't born, they are made with a lot of sweat, blood and tears.

Vesna Radonich (Ngāti Maniapoto) says, "A champion is willing to do whatever it takes to win, that means getting up at those funny hours, doing that extra set, eating that right food, going to bed putting your head in the right frame of mind all those things champions are willing to do."

Māori Kava Tere (Kuki Airani) explains, "You got to think about the training and nothing else, your family will come but you're thinking about yourself, being selfish."

Tupu King (Ngāpuhi) reveals, "Having that self determination being able to get out there rain hail or shine not just with your team but by yourself you've got to be internally driven but at the same time enjoy it."

Tupu has won six W1 golds at the nationals.  He's taken out the Open W1 Men's race the last two years, but he says the field is strong this year.

King adds, "The likes of Tyrin, Shannon Moon are back, Brad and Steve Rolston, Shaun Herbert a lot of top paddlers out there, it's a real competitive field this year but it's exciting as well.  You've got to watch both shoulders so it's good."

Tere is back to defend his J19 title.  He now has four W1 golds and says he feels the pressure that comes along with being the number one, "There's a lot, mainly my mum and dad, keep my pressure low 'cos you don't know where they're at with their training and what they're going to come with in nationals."

Champions overcome adversity and for Vesna Radonich, who has won five W1 Open golds, a hearing impairment and the recent birth of her baby has not held her back. 

"It's been more of a mental focus today for my first race just seeing where I'm at how much do I need to push and who my competition is, just the unknown," says Radonich.

Vesna is competing in the Masters section and despite her time off, she knows what it takes to make it to the top again, "You choose to be that champion, everything you do every day puts you one step closer to being that champion it's you that makes the champion nobody else makes you that champion."