Samoan paddler excited for her second Olympics

Paddler Anne Cairns is heading to her second Olympic Games in July, and she can’t wait to be back amongst the very best athletes in the world.

Her performance at the Oceania Canoe Sprint Championships qualified her to go to Tokyo 2020, having already attended the Rio Games in 2016.

The 39-year-old whose mother’s family are from Nofoali’I said she’s fully aware of how special going to one was, and feels lucky to be going to another.

“Once you do get it, there’s a relief side of it, and then obviously I’m excited,” she said

“Such a pinnacle event for so many sports, super excited.”

Cairns’ journey to Tokyo began right after the 2016 Olympics.

“I had that urge in me to try for another one, and so it’s pretty much been four years in the making.

“It brings together so many different sorts of people, so many different sorts of athletes, and people from so many different backgrounds.

“Even people that aren’t interested in sports and things, they know what the Olympics is… kayaking and rowing might look the same to them but they know what the Olympics is.”

She said the way the world’s elite are pitted against minnows of their sports like her is truly unique.

“Everybody’s got their own goals… we talk about races within races,” Cairns said.

“There is that reality check that these are professionals, and I‘m an amateur that has a normal job and a normal life as well as trying to do these sports.”

She’s a full-time firefighter in New Zealand, and will be working plenty of overtime over the next few months to acquire the money and leave needed for the Olympic campaign.

It’s those sorts of plans that Cairns is working on at the moment.

“Just looking at options of how early we can go to Japan to train, when we can get access to boats… and where we can train,” she said, noting that administrative and logistical side is nothing new for a paddler representing Samoa:

“I guess that’s different for other athletes, they’re not involved in that planning side of things…, that’s just how it is for some of the bigger nations.”

Ideally, Cairns would head to the Czech Republic and Germany in May to compete in the to International Canoe Federation Sprint World Cup, but that doesn’t appear likely.

“It might be just a little bit out of my budget and allowance of days off to do that,” she said.

Cairns is coming to Samoa next month, when she will catch up with her fellow Pacific Games va’a medallists as well as the Samoa Association of Sports – National Olympic Committee, who she is excited to be working with:

 “They’ve been in touch already and really, really supportive.

 “Also Samoa’s just received a whole heap of surf skis and kayaks through the International Canoe Federation to try and start a Samoa-based paddling group. Hopefully we can get some people involved and get people paddling.”

Beyond the Olympics, Cairns’ eyes are firmly set on the 2021 World Va’a Long-Distance Championship to be held in Samoa.

“I’d love to be able to paddle in that.”

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