The Club de Mar Mallorca paddlers become champion and runner-up in Portugal in the category of 60-64 year-olds.
Donatella Monteleone has become the first Club de Mar Mallorca athlete to win a world title. She did it at the World Sea Kayaking Championships held on the 6th of October in Viana do Castelo, Portugal. Monteleone was the winner in the 60-64 years old category in an event in which another Club de Mar athlete, Elena García Horrach, was runner-up in the same class.
Eight athletes from the Club de Mar Mallorca participated in the World Championship in Portugal, which put the finishing touch to the season. The head of the canoeing section, Ginés Cerdán, points out that the objective for this event “was to compete, to gain experience, to see the good ones; South Africans, Australians etc in action, to paddle in the Atlantic, which we had never done before, and to enjoy it”.
The expedition only had time to train for one day, as due to the strong wind conditions, it was decided to concentrate all the races on the following day. There were more than four hundred paddlers competing in the various categories, so it was not easy to stand out. They all had to complete a 19.5-kilometre course, which Donatella Monteleone covered in 2 hours, 2 minutes and 55 seconds.
The new world champion started late in the sport “I wish I had been canoeing all my life. I started in Mallorca at the age of 46 with a touring kayak. I had a technical problem, I asked on a forum and that’s how I met Ginés Cerdán’s group, before he was even in the Club de Mar. I started competing 4 months later, always with good results because unfortunately, when women reach a certain age, they stop doing sport. Later, thanks to the opportunity given to us by the Club de Mar and the passion of Ginés, we were able to continue practising this sport”. It was then that Donatella began to compete in both regional and national competitions, until she reached the peak at the world championships.
Elena García Horrach in turn has been federated for seven years: “I come from the club in Andratx, but I was the only veteran and they didn’t pay much attention to me. Then, three years ago, I proposed to Ginés to come to Club de Mar because I saw how they worked and how united they were as a team. Here I felt appreciated as an athlete and thanks to Ginés’ patience and dedication, I have been learning a little more every day”.
The World Championships was Monteleone’s first international competition, with the exception of the Eurochallenge in Formentera a few years ago. “At first I was going to Portugal to get a feel for the atmosphere, but Ginés told me to take the kayak and, since we were going, to paddle. In the end I signed up, but I didn’t have any expectations. I had never paddled in the Atlantic before but I have sailed boats a lot and I knew the difference compared to the Mediterranean. In the Atlantic the waves are bigger, gigantic, but they don’t break. In the Mediterranean they are shorter but more aggressive”. Elena García Horrach had a similar experience: “I was more than happy just to have the opportunity to take part in a World Championship”.
Donatella recounts her experience on the day of the event: “We took some very stable kayaks with us to Portugal. The decision was not to take any risks and I think we did the right thing. You know you can handle it well and you can put more power into it without the danger of destabilising yourself. The 19.5 kilometres were very intense and fun because with so many people you were never alone. Up to three kilometres from the end the wave was big but not aggressive, but in the final stretch there was a bounce that gave excitement to the race and the finish was very complicated, with the kayaks crashing into each other, overturning and the waves going over the top”.
The competition didn’t start well for Elena García Horrach: “As soon as I set off I realised I had a problem with the rudder, so I had to go back to land to fix it after about 500 metres, which made me lose quite a lot of time, but I hadn’t got that far to return home without paddling”, explains the runner-up in the world championships. “For me, going to a world championship is something very symbolic. My goal was to get to the finish and I didn’t care about anything else. At the finish I rolled around in the water with the kayak but I was hooked to the canoe and I didn’t want to let go until I got to the sand, until they told me that it wasn’t necessary. I reached the finish line and at that moment they told me I was the runner-up”.
Donatella Monteleone explains how she found out she was the new world champion: “When I arrived at the finish line I asked one of the control people for the number of my rivals and they told me that none of them had arrived, but I didn’t find out until Ginés told a colleague. However, it was at the trophy ceremony, with the medals and the anthem, that I was most excited. It makes your heart race”. Elena García Horrach agrees with her teammate: “It is at that moment when you realise that you are in a World Cup”.
The veterans section of the Club de Mar Mallorca also achieved fifth and sixth place in the men’s competition thanks to Manuel López and Carlos Díaz. “This World Championship has shown the great international level that our veterans have reached thanks to their constant effort training six days a week and also thanks to the club’s commitment to this group, which has become a reference for the rest of the categories due to their drive and desire to work and continue enjoying the sport at any age”, explains Ginés Cerdán.
For his part, the commodore of the Club de Mar Mallorca, Manuel Nadal de Uhler, stresses that the great performance of the canoeing team in Portugal is “a source of pride for the club and an example for all our young athletes”.
The other four athletes from the club who participated in the World Championships in Portugal were Gisele Corte, Elena Reolid, César Solís and Daniele Ciargo. For all of them it was the highlight of the season to compete in the most important event of the year.