First year Psychology student, Erin Blanch, flew the Bond University flag in South Africa this month when she finished 5th in the 2017 ICF Canoe Marathon World Championships.
As the only Australian woman selected to compete in the Junior K1 event, 18-year-old Erin was up against the world’s best young paddlers on a 19.3km course along the Umsunduzi River at Pietermartitzburg.
Erin’s selection in the 40-strong Australian team comes on the back of her gold medal winning performance in the Women’s Under 18 K1 category at the Australian Canoe Marathon Championships earlier this year.
It was her first international marathon regatta, although she has previously competed in sprint events in Poland and Slovakia.
“I started kayaking when I was 14, mainly because I was interested in surf skiing and wanted to learn the correct paddling technique,” Erin said.
The former Miami State High School student has been a member of Burleigh Heads Mowbray Park Surf Life Saving Club since the age of four, and still regularly patrols Burleigh Beach.
“As a nipper, right up until I was about 12 years old I was actually afraid of the surf, but now I love it – the bigger the better,” she said.
“While I’m still involved in surf lifesaving competitions, the kayak marathon events are definitely my preference these days.”
As a member of the Bond Elite Sport Program, Erin receives study support to help her juggle a jam-packed timetable of training, competing and classes. Erin also received the Elite Athlete Fund to help her get to South Africa.
“Time management is key,” she said.
“I’m putting in 13 training sessions a week at Varsity Lakes which adds up to 30 hours on top of my uni schedule, but the lecturers and tutors have been amazingly helpful.
“I fell in love with Bond at the first Open Day I attended in Year 11 and it’s been everything I expected and more.
“I’m planning to eventually complete my Honours and then a Master’s degree to become a registered psychologist working either in the sports field or with children.”
Erin also has her sights set on international sporting success.
“Unfortunately, kayaking won’t be included in next year’s Commonwealth Games but that gives me three years to prepare for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.”