Teneale hopes for more surf ski success

Author -  Karen Simpson

Teneale hopes for more surf ski success

Teneale marathon champs.jpg

As an Olympian, a former two-time Canoe Sprint world champion, current K1 1000m world record-holder and more latterly world-class surf-ski performer, there is surely no more versatile Kiwi paddler than Teneale Hatton.

Now aged 28 and after a decade of performing on the highest stage there is little you would imagine that the North Shore-based athlete has not experienced.

However, for the first time in her career earlier this month at the Hong Kong Dragon Run, Teneale took her first - and slightly embarrassing - tumble out of her surf ski, prompting her to joke that the 24km paddle had turned into a an unexpected “duathlon.”

“We faced tough conditions that day and after letting go of my paddle to adjust my drinks system, I suddenly moved in the seat and tipped out after a wave caught me by surprise,” Teneale explains with a laugh.

“It took me a couple of attempts to get back in the boat and I got a big flustered but it was all good,” she says.

The fact that Teneale was strong enough despite her impromptu dip in the ocean to finish third – a little over two minutes behind South African Hayley-Jo Nixon and one place behind fellow Kiwi Rachel Clarke – is testament to the rare ability of the women who grew up on the Hibiscus Coast and whose journey into paddling developed through surf lifesaving.

An outstanding surf lifesaver as a youngster – Teneale won national open titles as an under-16 athlete – from the age of 16 she represented the distinguished Kurrawa Surf Club in Gold Coast.

It was during her time based at the Queensland-based club she joined a paddling group and on days when the surf was too rough she first tried out in the K1.

Finding she enjoyed the nuances of the sport, on her return to New Zealand she joined the North Shore Canoe Club in 2008 and shortly after Teneale was invited to train with the national squad.

Fuelled by a desire to represent her country at the Olympics – and at the time coached by four-time Olympic champion Ian Ferguson – Teneale achieved her dream by qualifying for the London 2012 Olympics, finishing 15th in the K1 500m.

“The Olympics was an awesome achievement and that’s what kick-started a motivation to challenge myself a bit more,” says Teneale.

Greater success quickly followed. In 2013 she grabbed the K1 5000m World title and the next year she posted a world record K1 1000m mark – which still stands today – when winning the world title in Moscow.

However, from 2015 Teneale craved a new challenge and took up surf ski racing – winning the surf ski World Championships in her maiden year in the sport.

“I grew up in the surf (as a surf lifesaver) and surf ski is technically a slightly different stroke to K1,” she explains. “It was a case of reacquainting myself with that skill set, getting used to reading the surf and the water and using that to your advantage.”

Possessing a natural endurance and an impressive all-round ability the paramedic has continued to achieve some outstanding results and earlier this year secured victory at the highly-competitive Canadian Championships.

Balancing full-time work – where she works on an eight-day rotation of two 12-hour day shifts, followed by two 12-hour night shifts and three full days off – can present its training challenges.

Occasionally sessions will be missed but the Aucklander, who principally trains off Takapuna Beach and Lake Pupuke, is still making an impact on the global stage.

Her next competitive outing will come in the 27km The Doctor event in Perth on Saturday with the 20 Beaches Ocean Classic in Sydney to follow on December 15, but Teneale is not one to make any wild statements in terms of her expectations leading into the pair pf world-class events.

“My focus is just to do better than the last race,” says the adaptable athlete, who finished tenth in the multi-sport Coast to Coast event earlier this year. “I don’t like to put a number on what I do. I just hope to give it my all.”

Undecided yet as to her main goals for 2019 she will simply focus on competing hard and having more surf ski fun – an area of the sport which has given her so much.

“Not many people get to enjoy that thrill of being out in wild conditions and connecting with the waves in the middle of the ocean,” she explains of her passion for surf ski.

Teneale hopes for more surf ski success

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