My name is Marama Elkington and I have recently attended the 2016 Waka Ama World Sprints held at Lake Kawana, located in the Sunshine Coast of Australia. The two categories I competed at this year’s World event were:
- the Elite Development Under 19 Women’s for both 500m and 1000m in the 6man, team event, and
- the Elite Open Women’s V1 for 500m.
In the team events for both the 500m and the 1000m, we raced against the likes of Tahiti, Australia and even Hawaii. Which were both straight finals. Meaning no warms up, just get stuck in there and do the job. My team done extremely well in both of these events and won very convincingly, which we were both surprised and stoked about.
Picture of my team after winning our last 1000m race
I competed in Open Women’s for my one man event. Winning my heat and semi-final. In the final race however I only managed to get a silver medal. Coming behind the first place winner named Hinatea Bernadino from Tahiti by one second, with another paddler from Aotearoa named Rose King rounding out the podium at third place. My final time was: 2.30.16. This race was by far the hardest race I have ever done, I had to get over my fear to race someone who was extremely experienced (which showed in the race) and test my ability, it was the most physically demanding race I have ever competed in. Losing this race however has showed me how much more I can improve on, and it has highlighted weaknesses that prior to the race I didn’t think were as vital in my racing as they really were. Now that I know these things, I am going to work and improve on them, intensifying and increasing my trainings throughout the year, so that I can excel even more and eventually become the next open women world champion.
Picture of me on the podium
I had the option of doing the younger under 19 category, but I chose opens because the competition was better and I knew it would challenge me. A lot of people asked me: “why are you doing the open category if you are a junior 19?”. With which I replied: “I’m sick of easy golds in the junior categories. I wanted to go into a category that I would have to fight hard to win, rather than breeze over the finish line. Plus I wasn’t ever going to improve by staying in a category that didn’t test me, or push me to be better every year”. If I had stayed in my true category at the 2014 nationals, instead of doing opens I would have just remained ok, and never developed as much as I have now.
Not very many people realise the potential of rangatahi, even rangatahi themselves don’t believe their own potential. I want to inspire other rangatahi to not be just good, but great in anything they do. And encourage them to stop being lazy and become champions over their own lives. I am most greatful for the support of Wakatu for believing in me and my own potential, in wanting to be a part of my Waka journey, which is truly humbling. It is weird to think that I influence other rangatahi and people around Aotearoa, but I have met some people who have expressed this to me and I still find it strange, yet rewarding. I am proud of my decision to do opens as it has enabled growth in all aspects of my life, not just Waka but in school and my own work ethics. At the end of the day it is important to remember who you are, where you come from, where you are going, and also the people that have helped you on that journey. I am just a Maori girl from the pā who represents her iwi, religion, and family, trying to be the best woman at waka ama in the world. Thank you Ngāti Koata Trust for investing and believing in me enough to be involved in my life, and recognising my potential to be great.
Picture of me heading up to the start line