Q&A with canoeist Fiona Pennie

Q&A with canoeist Fiona Pennie

29 June 2016 / 09:18

Born into a Scottish sporting family, Fiona Pennie could have competed at a high level in a range of different sports before choosing canoeing. She became a junior World Cup Series winner in her third season of competition in 2000 and is a European and World medallist.

Who is your Olympic hero and why?

“The rower Katherine Grainger, because even after the disappointment of winning ‘only silver’ at three Olympic Games, she had the will to keep going to fight for her dream and won gold in London at the 4th time of asking.”

What do you remember about the first Olympic Games you watched?

“It was in 1992 and I remember watching the British winning gold medals in the athletics and being inspired to run as fast as them. As it was, I chose to paddle instead!”

What is the most important number in your life?

“The number 20 - because it’s the bib number I wore at the World Championships in 2006 and 2014, winning a silver medal at both.”

When did you decide to choose canoeing and what do you like about it?

“Both my parents excelled in sport and I was good in a variety of sports as a youngster. But I started to do well in canoeing around the age of 13 and I knew at that point I wanted to become one of the best at it. The sport tests an athlete in so many ways: mentally, physically and technically. When all those things come together the boat is easy to move that it almost feels effortless. The glide of the boat is such an amazing feeling.”

Where have you competed and which place did you like best?

“I’ve competed in 13 countries and other than Scotland (of course!) I really love Austria for their food and their way of getting things done attentively.”

How many sacrifices have you made for your sport?

“There have been many sacrifices over the years – for instance, I have trained on 20 Christmas days. At a younger age I missed out on school sporting events and activities. Later in university, I missed out on doing the huge amount of sport I wanted to take part in and these days I miss out on seeing my friends as often as possible and have missed a few weddings!”

How long does a canoe last?

“Well, it's always good to have a shiny new one. Having a few sets of kit and paddles means they last longer. On average I will have two boats a year although I need 4 boats in my fleet in this Olympic year!”

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