Cassidy MacPherson has managed to maintain her focus despite not having the competitive schedule she is used to. (Special to The News)

Cassidy MacPherson has managed to maintain her focus despite not having the competitive schedule she is used to. (Special to The News)

Maple Ridge’s top young kayaker hasn’t stopped pushing herself

Cassidy McPherson has been training 20 hours a week to maintain her competitive trajectory

For many young athletes coming into their prime, the COVID-19 pandemic has been a major setback.

With little to no competition, and training opportunities limited, it has been very easy to lose focus.

One of Maple Ridge’s top athletes has managed to keep her sights firmly set on her goals.

Cassidy MacPherson, 17, is an elite kayaker who has made waves on the national stage.

She was coming off a superb 2019 in which she won two gold medals at the Canoe Kayak Canada National Championships, and competed for the country at the Olympic Hopes International Regatta in Slovakia.

READ MORE: Kayakers medal at sprint nationals

Plans to take another leap, and gain even more recognition from the global paddling community, were in place. The virus made a dent in them.

However, it did not stop MacPherson from training like a person possessed.

“She may be one of the most dedicated athletes in B.C.,” her coach, Tessa Nagai said.

The Ridge Canoe and Kayak Club standout was still practising 20 hours a week while the club was shut down from May to June.

Nagai was setting up Zoom meetings online with MacPherson, so she could give her workouts to do regularly.

“She stuck it out through all of isolation,” Nagai said. “She was going to Whonnock Lake once or twice a day on her own, and kept in touch with me the whole time.

“I don’t think she missed out on a single training session.”

MacPherson said it was nice have have one event to take part in this year.

“We had a pretty small provincial regatta halfway through September, that we called the COVID cup,” she said.

“I raced in two single events and a K2 with one of the younger girls in my club.”

She won them all handily.

Most of the faster competition for the sport resides in the eastern provinces, so MacPherson has to rely in her male teammates for a challenge.

“I have a bunch of boys in my group who are around the same speed as me,” she said. “So I’m able to use them as my marker for the competition out East.

“It keeps me motivated and helps me stay on top of things.”

The goal for the short term is making the junior national team once again, and for the long term, she would like to be part of the senior team when it goes to Paris for the 2024 Olympics.

While the games are quite a while away, her determination and love for the sport should give her a good chance of being considered.

For local youngsters who are interested in following in her wake, MacPherson can’t gush enough about getting on the lake.

“When you really get into it, and get fast, you just glide on the water,” she said.

“The best part is, you don’t need to rely on anyone else. It’s just you, and the boat, and the paddle, and you’re going.”

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