From the Road to the Water | James Munro

James Munro’s journey to the 2022 ICF Canoe Sprint World Champs in Canada is one to marvel at, trading his steering wheel for a paddle just over five years ago.

The 25-year old embarks on his first World Champs campaign next month, having joined the Otago Kayak Racing Club in 2017.

Munro’s start in paddling came after a desire to race the Coast to Coast. Before that, the Christchurch-born paddler had a successful career in motorsport. 

“After my career in Motorsport ended in 2016, I felt the need to find another competitive outlet when I began studying at the University of Otago.”

After twice completing the two-day Coast to Coast in 2018 and 2019, Munro switched his focus to paddling. The decision paid off, leading to getting into a K1 and later competing in his first nationals in 2020 at age of 23.

“I always enjoyed training, and the environment at the club kept me coming back for more.”

The national team beckoned. But not before a call and some guidance from Olympic silver medalist and former World Champion Ben Fouhy. Up until then, Munro had been writing his own training programmes.

“Ben taught me a lot about training and working hard.

“Under his guidance I improved quite quickly and, after around six months, had managed to bridge the gap and demonstrate I was good enough to join the national squad.”

Munro has also drawn on his previous motorsport experiences, particularly the mental skills of racing.

“Motorsport taught me about analysing data; you don’t get much time to practice in the car, so you have to spend a lot of time away from the track analysing what you could have done better.

“I’ve definitely kept this mindset and spend a lot of time analysing data from training, racing, as well as nutrition and other lifestyle factors in order to make changes and keep improving.”

For Munro, a World Champs debut is another “great opportunity to see the level required to compete with the best in the world,” after making it through to the A-final at his first World Cup event in May. 

“It’s very special to be able to represent New Zealand especially with the history we have in the sport.”

Joining up with the team in Canada has given Munro an extra level of pride and motivation.

“I was already training quite hard before but having the team to train with in every session has really helped me find an extra gear and push myself even harder.

“It makes it all the more enjoyable as well.”

The ICF Canoe Sprint World Champs run from 3-7 August at Lake Banook, Dartmouth, Canada.