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It's Japan, New Zealand, France then Bulgaria for determined Taranaki 17-year-old

It's Japan, New Zealand, France then Bulgaria for determined Taranaki 17-year-old

It's Japan, New Zealand, France then Bulgaria for determined Taranaki 17-year-old

Seventeen-year-old Hannah Baker has two major sporting events on the horizon.

The Taranaki teenager is in the final stages of preparing for surf lifesaving's Sanyo Cup in Japan, where she will compete in the sport of surf skiing, and then weeks later she's off to Bulgaria for the International Canoe Federation's (ICF) Canoe Sprint Junior and Under 23 World Championships, where she will competitively kayak.

After that she's got her eyes on another prize - a place in next year's New Zealand high performance women's kayak squad.

Baker will travel to Japan for the first competition, home to New Zealand, then to France for a training camp then straight to Bulgaria for her second international competition.

"And I will make it."

Her mother, Kelly Collins, said she wouldn't be surprised if Hannah achieved all of her ambitions. Collins has seen the same determination before.

Collins still remembers the day her daughter came home after a Surf Lifesaving competition at the age of 10 convinced of one thing.

"She was never competitive," Collins said. "She went to that event, and that's when it hit.

"She said 'I want to start training now'."

Ever since then Baker, who attends New Plymouth's Sacred Heart Girls' College, has put her heart and soul into Surf Lifesaving, and picked up kayaking a few years later.

Baker, who is part of the East End Surf Lifesaving Club, competes in the surf ski event, which involves paddling a kayak-like water craft around obstacles and back to shore again.

The Sanyo Cup will be her first international Surf Lifesaving competition.

"After that I come back for a week before I fly to France for a training camp," Baker said.

In France, Baker, who is part of the Waitara Kayak Club, will spend a week preparing with other athletes before heading straight to Bulgaria for her next world championship event.

She's competed in international kayaking competitions before but she doesn't know which of the two sports she enjoys more.

"I just like them both," she said. "They're so different."

On top of all this, Baker still manages to get all her school work done and is planning to head to university next year.

"I"m really lucky because I did some of year 13 last year," Baker said. "Plus, I have to catch up."

 - Stuff

Jane Matthews