Thu 29 Apr 2021

Olympic canoeist mentors Sports Academy athletes

New Zealand and Olympic slalom canoeist Luuka Jones is the ambassador and mentor for WITT Sports Academy students. With only a few months until her fourth Olympics, Jones has time to talk to WITT about her sports academy experience and the importance of balancing sport and study.

Having a qualification to fall back on is the key message from Jones to the sports academy students.  

The 32-year-old and eight-time national champion said injuries are a common part of sport and if you can’t compete anymore, it’s important to have a plan B.

And having that back up can also help during sport too, she says.

“This is also very helpful at high pressure events. If you don’t have anything outside of sport, I feel it adds more pressure to perform at a pinnacle event.”

She knows that from experience, because when she was competing at the Rio Olympics in 2016, Jones was finishing assignments between her semi-final and final races.

“It gave me something else to focus on,” she said.

Jones was training full time and studying and working part-time, working towards a business degree majoring in communications. Good time management is the key to balancing all of that.

“I would get up really early to train before going to classes.”

Her job was nearby, so she could head to work around classes. She kept a diary, and her advice to others is to plan out the week while training and studying.

Now that knowledge is being passed down to WITT’s five 2021 Sports Academy students in an ambassador and mentoring role.

Jones’ sports academy experience was ‘extremely positive.’ She attended the Waiariki Sports Academy in Rotorua and had access to sports science support, gym programming and testing.

She admitted she didn’t know a lot about the theory behind training plans or how to progress as an athlete.

“It taught me these valuable things in a fun environment. We did testing, so I could monitor improvements and I received help in planning out my year of training and travel, then breaking that down into training blocks.

“It was also nice to be surrounded by athletes from other sports,” she added.