Barefoot world champion has superhero attitude

Last updated 05:00 07/09/2012
Georgia Groen

World champion Georgia Groen has plenty of time to practise her barefoot water skiing skills in her backyard on the appropriately named Lake Inspiration in Otaki.

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Georgia Groen reckons she can "fly like Superman" after decimating junior world records and surprising her older opponents on her way to a world title at the barefoot waterskiing world championships in Texas.

The year 12 Kapiti College student won a world title and did a clean-sweep of the four junior titles last week.

Groen, 16, flew a distance of 19 metres in the "jump" smashing the junior world record by 3.5m. Her jump was good enough for second in the open women's section.

In the "trick" she fared even better, breaking the junior world record and taking out the open women's world title.

She finished the world championships third overall, losing out to eventual world champion Ashleigh Stebbeings, of Australia.

Groen's efforts also helped the New Zealand junior team to third overall.

Groen is ecstatic with her results. "Yeah, it's sunk in! I'm over the moon - it's the best feeling in the world," she said.

"All the Kiwi team and supporters ran into the water and lifted me up.

"It was great."

To prepare for the world champs without the distraction of cold New Zealand water, Groen went to the United States two months beforehand.

She spent entire days on the water in preparation, training in 20-minute bursts.

"With barefoot skiing you can fly like Superman over huge distances," she said.

"Learning new tricks in the winter time, it's cold - the falls start to hurt more."

Kapiti College gave her time off class. Harcourts paid for her flights and her parents Fred and Brenda were there supporting her every step of the way..

Groen is the youngest member of the family, whose property features a custom-designed, waterskiing lake on their Otaki property.

Brenda watched her daughter compete in Waco, Texas, and is extremely proud of her achievements.

"Here we are, she's just 16 and now she's the best in the world. It's hard to believe," she said.

"It was a bit nerve-racking but she just did it."

Brenda thinks her daughter could easily give theoverall women's champion a run for her money at the next world champs in 18 months.

For now she can put her feet up while the water in the lake heats up.

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- Wellington

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