Waka ama champ chuffed
The limelight has caught up with junior world waka ama sprint champion Kataraina Brown at last.
The 16-year-old from Manurewa was over her heroics at the World Va'a Championships in Calgary, Canada in August where she won gold in the blue ribbon under-19 women's W1 500, gold in the J19 W6 1000 and silver in the W6 500 and W12 500.
It was all behind her and besides she didn't have the time to dwell on her newfound status as world number one.
She has the New Zealand sprint nationals coming up in January on Lake Karapiro and her focus is on adding the New Zealand W1 500 to her collection.
But a rush of sports awards has had Brown reliving the glory of Calgary.
First Alfriston College named her its sportsperson of the year.
Then within three days she was named Auckland secondary schools sportswoman of the year for waka ama and junior sportswoman of the year at the Maori Sports Awards at the Pacific Events Centre in Manukau.
Brown's mother Sue is Nga Puhi and father Kevin is Ngati Tamatera (Coromandel).
Brown is unaffected by the recognition. She says she didn't see it coming but is honoured.
"I'm just so happy for all the people who have supported me over the years, Mum especially," she says.
"She has been tireless getting to and from training and finding the money to send me and my sister Milla to regattas in New Zealand and overseas.
"Mum's great. She looks after the transportation and fundraising and that allows Milla and I to focus on our training."
Brown's celebrations have been somewhat muted, out of respect for her identical twin Kamilla.
Milla was always the number one and Kata had never beaten her in a race until the final in Calgary where she pipped her sister into second place by three seconds.
"I think I was a little more focused than she was at the worlds," Kata says.
"Our races have always been close but this was the first time that I'd ever beaten her."
Milla has taken the loss in her stride. "I'd rather Kata beat me than anyone else."
The twins are now hard at training six days a week. During the coming school holidays they will increase the workload and will be on the water from 8am until 4pm.
Kata says January's national sprint championships are the immediate focus. In the long term though, she can't wait for waka ama to become an Olympic sport.
The twins got their start in waka am with the Weymouth-based Te Pou Herenga club.
They now paddle for Manukau Outriggers who are based in Panmure.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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