Introducing – Alicia Hoskin

Author -  Karen Simpson

The 19-year-old New Zealand elite squad member reveals a little more of her intriguing journey so far and her future ambitions.

Introducing – Alicia Hoskin

The 19-year-old New Zealand elite squad member reveals a little more of her intriguing journey so far and her future ambitions.


Alicia Hoskin

The 19-year-old New Zealand elite squad member reveals a little more of her intriguing journey so far and her future ambitions.

Multisport background

Growing up part of a passionate sports family in Gisborne, Alicia was a talented all-round athlete twice winning the AIMS Games multisport (kayaking, mountain biking and running) title and medalling at national cycling road champs before specialising in canoe sprint from the age of 15.

“Kayaking was my strength in multi-sports,” she explains. “My older sister (Courtney) first did canoe sprint. (representing NZ at Junior Worlds) and I followed in her footsteps. I quickly fell in love with kayaking.”

Foundation stone

Joining the Poverty Bay Kayak Club she was given the perfect foundation in the sport under the coaching of Olympian Liz Thompson, whose husband Alan is a two-time former Olympic champion.

Later coached by Hungarian Gergely Gyertyanos, she was introduced to a tough, demanding training regime but thrived in the environment.

“I loved being able to race the boys,” she explains. “I loved trying to keep up with them and beat them. I was very competitive on the water and it allowed me to be myself.”

International breakthrough

Competing alongside club-mate Alex Bermingham, the pair competed in the 2016 Olympic Hopes Regatta for the world’s leading U14 and U16 junior athletes in Szeged, Hungary, and the experience was hugely significant for the then 16-year-old Gisborne Girls’ High School student.

Aiming to reach the A final in one of her four events; K1 200m, K1 1000m, K2 200m and K2 500m, she exceeded expectations by reached the A Final in all four disciplines.

“That was a huge accomplishment for me,” she explains. “It was my first time competing for New Zealand and it gave me the belief that this (canoe sprint) is what I want to do in future,” she explains.

Heart Scare

Named Canoe Racing NZ’s Junior Kayaker of the Year in 2016 the following year she continued her upwardly mobile progress by winning selection for the New Zealand team for the 2017 Junior Canoe Sprint World Championships in Romania.

However, her world received a huge jolt when just two weeks before Junior Worlds, an athlete screening programme including an ECG heart test - recommended as part of an emerging athlete development programme - revealed some shocking news.

“I was told I had a heart condition known as Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome – which means I have an extra electrical pathway in the heart,” she explains. “The condition can cause rapid heartbeats and even heart failure, so it is was very important it was treated.”

Initially devastated to miss the Junior Worlds she underwent surgery to correct the problem and faced a three-month period on the sidelines. However, receiving loving support from her family – dad, Craig, Mum, Toni, and sister, Courtney, proved crucial.

“My family made sure I kept everything in perspective,” explains Alicia, who that year was head girl at Gisborne Girls’ High School. “I’d worked hard for Junior Worlds, but I knew it wasn’t the pinnacle of my career. There were other events to train for. It wasn’t the end of my journey.”

Elite boost

Making a tentative return to the competitive arena for Blue Lake 1 in October, 2017, Alicia was back in good form for the 2018 NZ Nationals.

Despite competing with a finger injury at Lake Karapiro she snagged gold medals in the U18 K1 500m and K2 500m - alongside club-mate Alex Bermingham – and U18 K1 200m silver.

Following her strong showing at nationals the AUT University sport and exercise student was called up to be part of the New Zealand women’s elite squad based on Auckland’s North Shore.

Coached by a combination of Gordon Walker, Nathan Luce and Jasper Bats, Alicia admits the increase in training volume and intensity was a big step up but her very presence in such an elite sporting environment was hugely inspirational.

“I remember the first time I walked into the AUT Millennium (HPSNZ National Training Centre) and bumping into Valerie Adams and Eliza McCartney - it was so motivating,” she explains. “Training alongside some of the world’s best kayakers like Lisa (Carrington) and Caitlin (Ryan) and watching how they attack each training session has been super helpful. Being in that high performance environment was been amazing because that is the standard I want to reach.”

Junior world success

At last year’s Junior Worlds in Bulgaria, Alicia just missed out on a pair of A Finals, but she had the consolation of winning both B Finals in the K1 500m and K2 500m – alongside Olivia Brett.

“My goal was to reach the A final, and although I was disappointed not to achieve my goal I had to turn that around to fuel the fire for the B finals. To perform as I did (in the B Finals) was hugely satisfying.”

Olympic ambition

After an excellent recent showing at nationals – which included an eighth place finish in a world-class open women’s K1 200m final behind double Olympic champion Lisa Carrington and a national U23 K1 200m and 500m double – she has switched her attention to future goals.

“I would like to win selection for the U23 worlds, hopefully make A finals and be competitive against the top countries,” she adds.

In the longer term she would love to compete at the 2024 Paris Olympic Games – a goal she believes is a possibility.

“I would like to give it a good crack,” she says. “As I train alongside girls who have performed successfully at the Olympic Games and on the world stage, it seems a realistic goal.”

Alicia’s philosophy

Off the water Alicia is a well-balanced 19-year-old, who runs a card design business alongside her cousin, and she takes a refreshingly mature approach to her sport.

“A big motivation for me as a canoe sprinter is to make a difference,” she explains. “If I only focus on myself it does not fulfil me. I always look at ways of helping others or ways that I can influence people.”

Introducing – Alicia Hoskin

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