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Rio Olympics 2016: 10 things to know about Olympic silver medallist Luuka Jones

Luuka Jones of New Zealand celebrates her silver medal. Photo / Photosport
Luuka Jones of New Zealand celebrates her silver medal. Photo / Photosport

10 things to know about Luuka Jones, New Zealand's latest Olympic medallist after a stunning performance in the women's canoe slalom final.

1) The 27-year-old Tauranga-born Jones was brought up on the banks of the Wairoa River, and did odd jobs for the adventure park next door in return for kayaking lessons.

2) She became the first female slalom paddler to represent New Zealand at the Olympics in 2008.

3) She began paddling at the age of 10, and had her first race at 14.

4) As for her name...Jones' mum was a fan of actress Audrey Hepburn, and Jones was named after Hepburn's son Luca. Another U was added to give it more of a girly sound.

5) Jones is a business student at Massey University - using the distance learning programme.

6) She told Voxy.co.nz that her two previous Olympic appearances helped her prepare for Rio. "Knowing what it's like when you're sitting on the start line in front of those massive crowds definitely helps." She moved to Nottingham, England, in order to train with the British team ahead of the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. Following the event, she joined the Waiariki Academy of Sport in New Zealand, which helped her qualify for the 2012 Olympic Games in London. She then began receiving financial support from High Performance Sport New Zealand, which meant she was able to work with a full-time coach for the first time in her career. "This has made a huge difference and in two years I have gone from being in the top 30 in the world to finishing in the top 10 at the 2014 World Championships."

7) She feels like something of a lone operator in a male dominate sport. "There are three men's categories at the Olympics and only one women's...in New Zealand we have a few more girls getting into it, but it's still a majority of guys. It's very rare for me to have a female training partner."

8) Jones showed promising signs, finish 10th at the World Cup in Slovenia in June. "I am not sure for how long I have wanted to make a World Cup final but it was only this year that I have truly believed I am capable of doing so. Last weekend in London I was very close and this week in Slovenia I achieved one of my goals."

9) She lists her hobbies as water sports, mountain biking, travelling, graphic design, music, photography, psychology.

10) Asked about her sporting philosophy, she quoted the basketball king Michael Jordan: "I've missed more than 9,000 shots in my career, I've lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times I've been trusted to take the winning shot and missed. I've failed over and over and over again in my life. And that's why I succeed."

- NZ Herald

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