Kelowna paddler sets sights on world gold
Whether it's in an outrigger canoe or on top of a stand up paddle board, there aren't many people who can move as fast or powerfully across a stretch of water as Leanne Stanley.
Proof of that isn't hard to find as the Kelowna woman already has nine world championship medals to her credit in outrigger, and many other provincial awards in stand up events.
Now Stanley has aspirations of becoming the world's fastest female in an outrigger, while also cracking into the top 10 competitors in the world in stand up paddling.
A member of the Canadian national outrigger team, Stanley has designed a 20-month training program which she hopes will pave the way to gold at the IVF World Outrigger Sprint Championships in 2016 in Australia.
Stanley has knocked on the door of a world title before, finishing fourth in 2008 and third in 2010. In 2012, feeling poised to make the climb all the way to the top, she was involved in a car accident in Kelowna three weeks before worlds in Calgary. Despite the injuries sustained and competing in less than peak physical shape, she managed a fourth-place showing.
"I absolutely feel like I can make a serious run at it in 2016," she said.
Stanley, 33, who moved to the Okanagan in 2011, is currently in search of sponsorship and supporters to help her achieve her goal.
"I am very excited about the opportunities, possibilities and future of the sport of both outrigger and stand up paddling," said Stanley, "and it is my hope that my community, my province and my country will join me as I move forward in my aspirations in becoming the world’s fastest woman in an outrigger.”
Stanley already has numerous wins to her credit this season, including taking the women's open C1 title at the Canadian National Outrigger Sprint Championships this spring at Burnaby Lake.
At home, Stanley is head coach of the Kelowna Outrigger Club. She hopes to grow the Kelowna Paddle Centre through the creation of a junior program for kids and youth. As a spin-off, she also hopes to grow the sport of outrigger and SUP racing in the Okanagan and across B.C.
In short, paddling pretty much defines who Leanne Stanley is.
"I've always been water baby and I just love being out there," she said. "Paddling runs my life. It makes me happy."
For more information on Stanley and her world championship quest, visit leannestanley.com.
For more information on outrigger and stand up paddling in Kelowna, visit kelownapaddlecentre.ca