Elena Reolid, the triumph of perseverance

mElena Reolid won the title of Spanish Sea Kayaking champion in the U23 category in Dénia in September. The Club de Mar Mallorca paddler thus reached one of the major milestones of the season, both individually and for the club. This young 22 year old athlete has learned through her perseverance and effort to combine and seamlessly harness in her life both the dedication to her tremendously demanding studies, as she is in her fifth year of Medicine at the UIB, and the high level training that has led her to achieve this great triumph.

The sports coordinator of the Club de Mar, Gonzalo Roig, highlights “Elena’s dedication, sacrifice and perseverance to find time for her studies and training both in the gym and in the water. She is a great example for the younger members of the club and we are proud to have her on the team”.

Few people in the sporting world know Elena better than Ginés Cerdán, the head of the canoeing section of the Club de Mar, who from the beginning realised that Elena had something special: “I was struck by her joy and her strength and she already had her discipline well worked out as she was a track and field athlete at the time. She has great mental strength and a strong character. We worked with her progressively so that she could combine training with her studies, without forgetting to improve her technique, both in paddling and gliding” – explains Ginés – “as she demanded more from herself, we increased the training load and she improved her results in competition until she won the Spanish Championship”.

A few days ago we interviewed Elena Reolid at the Club de Mar training centre in Can Barbarà. She told us how she discovered this sport, her great triumph in Dénia and how she lives her day to day combining studies and training.

– How did you discover canoeing?

– I first came to the Club de Mar to participate in a summer school, doing multisport, when I was about 16 years old. I hadn’t tried canoeing before. Already then Ginés noticed me and offered me to come and try canoeing one afternoon. I did and kept practicing it once or twice a week until I was 18. As time went by I started to like it a lot more. When I discovered wave riding in a kayak I got really hooked. At 19 I started to train seriously and continue to date.

– Why did you choose sea kayaking?

– What I love about sea kayaking is that it’s so versatile and changeable. It’s not just about physical strength, like in other sports, but it’s very important to have wit and intelligence when it comes to managing yourself at sea. If you know how to read the sea well, you can get more out of it than a person with more physical training.

– Tell us about the experience of your great triumph in the Spanish Championship in Dénia.

The race was a downwind, that is to say, navigating in the same direction as the waves, with a 20-kilometre course. At the beginning there were no waves forecast but this changed and such conditions  are  the most favourable to me. We moved at an average speed of 13-14 km/h, which is a lot but I was prepared. You have to place yourself in the spot on the beach where you think you can best get into the canoe and control the rivals in your category. I positioned myself in a deeper part, because I don’t have problems to climb. I managed the start well and got into a very good group, which was decisive. Then I progressed at a steady pace overtaking groups. In this kind of competición you are never really sure where your opponents are. I didn’t see anyone in my category at any time, but I did see the seniors and as I stayed with that reference group for the whole race, I knew I was doing well.

– What do you think was the decisive factor that allowed you to win the championship?

– It is often difficult to believe the improvement and all the training that goes into a competition. There is the ‘imposter syndrome’ – no matter how well things go, you feel that you don’t deserve it. However, I have worked a lot on that. To be aware of the whole journey and the effort behind each competition, to realise what I have worked for and if I´m are there it’s for a reason. Before, it was all nerves, instability… and that was detrimental to the result. You have to apply it in all areas of life, not just in sport. The psychological support provided by the Club de Mar coaches is also very important in this respect, as the calmness they transmit helps a lot.

– Once you have won the national title, do you have some new challenges in mind?

– I would love to keep going. My goal for next year is to go with the Spanish national team to the European Championships, which will be held in the Azores, and participate also in the World Championships in Madeira.

– How do you manage to combine two very different and demanding fields in your life: your medical studies and high-level training?

– I study medicine at Son Espases, at the UIB. This year I’m in my fifth year. It’s easy to get stressed. From 8 am to 1:30 pm I have classes or practice, I eat very quickly, and I come to train two or three hours a day from Monday to Saturday. Then I take the bus and go to the library to continue studying until half past eight when it closes, after which I go home and continue studying while I have dinner until  my bedtime at ten o’clock.  When the truth is told, by then I´m totally exhausted.

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