Afrikaanse Hoërskool Germiston learner Helen Jansen van Vuuren continues to shine and excel in the canoeing community.
The 18-year-old canoeist has been selected to be part of the squad that will represent South Africa at the ICF World Junior and U23 Sprint Canoe Championships, which will take place from August 31 to September 4, 2022 in Szeged , in Hungary.
She is the only junior selected. She is excited and proud.
“This opportunity means a lot to me because I can represent South Africa which is an honour.
“I’m excited and looking forward to racing against the best juniors in the world and meeting new people,” said Helen.
She said canoeing is her first love with sailing. She started the sport at the age of 13 and has never looked back. She said the journey has been amazing and she has learned a lot along the way, but it also has its challenges.
“The trip was fun and stressful. I had the opportunity to meet incredible people and the sport itself offered incredible opportunities. But also, with some challenges. There are not enough women in sport in South Africa. I want to promote and be an ambassador for women in paddling,” said Helen.
She said her success in the sport was based on hard work, dedication and balance in everything she does. She trains 12 times a week and still has school.
“My day starts at 04:00. I go to Loftus Sports Science Lab in Pretoria for my gym session at 05:00. I arrive home for school from 07:45 to 14:30. I do my schoolwork until 4:30 p.m.. I then leave to do my canoeing sessions until 6:00 p.m.. I come home and finish my homework/studies and spend time with family,” said Helen.
She said her memorable moments since her debut were to be her two Olympic hopefuls regattas in Slovakia in 2019 and also in the Czech Republic in 2021. She also competed at the U23 and Junior World Championships in Portugal last year where she made the B final of the K1 1000m, which earned her the 18th place in the world. The young canoeist plans to try to make the Olympic team over the next five years.