Carleton Place kayaker has paddles aimed at national and olympic teams

Carleton Place kayaker Monica Black.
Carleton Place kayaker Monica Black practices at the Carleton Place Canoe Club on April 24, 2017. Photo credit: Jane Hobson.
Posted on: May 15, 2017

Jane Hobson

After nine weeks at training camp in Melbourne, Florida, Carleton Place kayaker Monica Black is back on the Mississippi River and her training is as intense as ever.

Black wants to represent Canada at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan and is confident of her chances. She trained with the Canadian women’s team in Florida to prepare for trials coming up in mid-May at the Olympic Basin in Montreal, Quebec. During these trials the athletes for the U23 national team will be selected, and athletes on the national team compete for a place at the Olympics. “I know I can do it because I’m very determined and motivated. I love doing it every day,” Black says. “I feel the best — the most myself — when I’m on the water.”

Black has been paddling at the Carleton Place Canoe Club (CPCC) since she was about 10 years old. “I fell in love [with kayaking] because I love being outside in nature and I love being on the water,” she said. “I really love the natural environment.”

Now 23-years-old with a bachelor’s degree in biology from Carleton University under her belt, Black’s high-intensity training program is her full-time job. She spends about 30 hours per week training. She’s on the water every morning and evening for two hours at a time and hits the gym three times a week for weights.

“The workout depends on the program cycle, but training is super intense right now since trials are around the corner,” Black said.

Don’t be fooled, training does not stop when the workout does. “It’s really important to make sure I’m eating right — and eating a lot — and sleeping for long enough to make sure I’m getting enough rest. It really is a lifestyle.”

Aside from experiencing extreme physical exhaustion, her training is also mentally exhausting. “A lot of the time my brain is telling me to stop and I have to push through. But it’s worth it when you start to see improvements like a faster speed,” she says.

Black’s lifestyle requires her to make a lot of sacrifices. She doesn’t stay out late or drink alcohol, which sometimes makes socializing with friends a challenge.

“I’m really lucky because I get a lot of good support from close friends. Even though we don’t see each other often, they’re always cheering me on — literally and metaphorically,” she says. “They understand that I have goals I’m trying to reach and it’s alright if our goals look different.”

Along with the support from her friends, Black also relies on her family for support. “My mom and dad and brother not only support me but they inspire me because they want to see me do my best, and they tolerate me when I’m grumpy,” she says.

Even through the pain, Black paddles because it feels good to do something she loves every day. “Isn’t that what everyone wants in life?  To do something they love? I look forward to it regardless of how hard it gets,” she says.

Of course if Black achieves her goal of representing Canada on the world stage, she will be representing her hometown of Carleton Place as well.

“If I had to bring one thing from home with me to the Olympics it would probably be a bakery sandwich from the Old Town Bakery,” she laughs. “I love those.”

This article first appeared in the May issue of Hometown News.