Local paddler voted top achiever by national teen magazine

2008-11-27 00:00

Local schoolgirl and champion canoeist Emma Horner has been voted the Readers’ Choice Winner in seventeen magazine’s 2008 Top Teen Achiever Awards. The award, sponsored by Standard Bank in association with E.tv’s Sistahood, recognises teenagers making a mark in South Africa.

Fourteen-year-old Emma, who attends St John’s DSG, entered the competition at the urging of her friends. “Then I got a call telling me I was in the top three in my section, the sports section. I was quite chuffed.

Emma says she is a sprint paddler, and has been paddling for three years.

This year, she was awarded the KZN Paddler of the Year trophy and the Natal Canoe Club Junior Lady Paddler of the Year Trophy. She was the Gold Victrix Ludorum at the KwaZulu-Natal Sprint Championships and again the Gold Victrix Ludorum at the SA Schools Championships.

Emma was also the youngest-ever medallist at the South African National Sprint Championships, after which she competed on the South African team at the British National Championship and was the only medal winner, achieving four golds and becoming British National U14 champion.

At the Royal Junior Sprint Regatta, she posted the fastest times among the women and received the overall Championship Trophy.

Emma got the backing of friends and school mates when it came to voting for her in seventeen’s Top Teen Achiever Awards. “I won by only 12 votes, so it was pretty close — every vote counted.”

She was on her way to Durban for another canoeing race when she heard she had won the Readers’ Choice Award.

“I had my mum’s cellphone — I kept saying ‘Sorry, you’ve got the wrong number’. When I realised what they were saying, I was lost for words, it was complete overload. I’d been told a week before I’d lost in the sports section and that was fine, I’d got over that, so this really came out of the blue.”

Emma, who is currently without a sponsor for international competition, will put the award’s R5 000 prize money to good use. “Getting overseas was one of the reasons I entered,” she says.

“My next goal is the Moscow World Championships next year. I’d love to go, but an overseas trip costs R30 000.”

Emma is also pleased at winning the award as it sends out a positive message about female canoeists.

“Canoeing is male-dominated, but you don’t have to be a big muscle-machine,” she says.

“You don’t have to be butch, you can still look good and beat all the guys on the Drift.”

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