Jane Pankhurst joins Australian Canoe Marathon Team

June 29, 2022

Jane Pankhurst is a postgraduate Fogarty Scholar completing a Doctor of Medicine. Jane is also an esteemed kayaker and has recently been selected for the 2022 Australian Canoe Marathon Team. Jane will be competing at the World Championships in the Open Woman’s K2 Standard Course event in Portugal later this year.

You have been selected for the 2022 Australian Canoe Marathon Team; how long have you been working towards this?

I started kayaking competitively in the marathon discipline, comparatively late in life, at the start of 2019. The Canoe Marathon National Championships were held in WA that year, and after participating in that event, immersing myself within a competitive environment and being surrounded by some incredible paddlers, I was inspired to work towards making the Australian Canoe Marathon Team. 

Unfortunately, due to COVID, our national championships were cancelled in 2020 and 2021, so Australia was unable to send teams to the World Championships. 2022 was the first year the canoe marathon community has competed at a national level, so this goal has been 3 years in the making! 

What does a typical training week look like for you?

Currently, a typical training week includes seven on-water paddle sessions, three strength sessions and two cross-training sessions, Monday through to Saturday. Despite the dark and the cold, winter mornings and afternoons are some of the most beautiful times to paddle, the sunrises and sunsets are amazing! 

How do you juggle training/studying/working?

Most of the time not very well haha! I rely heavily on my diary. If I plan ahead, I find it much easier to balance my commitments throughout the week. It is easy to let the juggle overwhelm you, and I think like many, I sometimes feel guilty if I don’t feel like I’m filling my time with something ‘productive’. So, I have learnt the importance of making time to de-load. Which is equally as important as the time spent working towards career, sport or study related goals. For me, this involves spending time with my family, taking my dog for a walk in the bush, and lots of sleep! 

What do you love about paddling?

There is so much I love about paddling! It is such a technical sport and there are many factors at play when working to refine and develop our craft. I love that development in this sport is a lifelong journey and the pursuit of my best is a benchmark that constantly moves. I love that I will never stop learning. 

The paddling community in Australia is incredible. Within the daily training environment, we get the opportunity to interact with world renowned athletes and coaches. All of whom, are committed to giving back to the wider sporting community. I am so grateful for the opportunity to learn from these people. It is impossible not to be inspired! 

You must be incredibly disciplined. How do you think your sporting achievements and commitment to training have assisted you with your studies and career goals? 

I find that sport is as much a mental game as it is physical. Kayaking has taught me so much about how my mind works, in terms of how to deal with the self-critical voice that I’m sure many of us are all too familiar with. The understanding of how to manage unhelpful thought patterns, is a skill that I have transferred into other areas of my life. 

Kayaking has taught me to embrace the present, find flow, and never let fear of failure get in the way of opportunity. 

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