Life can be challenging for teenagers as they juggle their sporting pursuits with their social life and the occasional concert.
For Napier Girls High School Year 13 student Hana-tia Ross who competes in four sports, waka ama, kayaking, surf lifesaving and canoe polo, at national level it can be particularly tough. But last week she had the balance spot on ... in and out of her waka.
"I was heading to Raglan for the three-day Soundsplash Festival from Friday to Sunday when I thought I would call into to the national waka ama champs at Lake Karapiro to support mum. Then I learnt my under-23 W1 500m event was on the Thursday before the concert ... with three wins from as many races, the heat, semifinal and final I won the title," the 17-year-old recalled.
"Considering I was among the younger paddlers in the 24-strong field, I finished eighth last year and waka ama would come in fourth if I had to rank my sports in order of priority I was pretty happy," Ross said.
The Haeata Ocean Sports Club member won her final by a boat length and Ross' time of 3m53s would have placed her fifth in the open women's final. With her mother and coach Kaye Ross in a composite masters W6 Masters crew which won golds in their 500m and 1000m events the Ross family returned home from the nationals which catered for 3000 paddlers with three gold medals.
While Ross was the only Hawke's Bay individual to capture gold an adaptive six-person 500m crew coached by Roni Nuku, who also competed in the same crew as Kaye Ross, also won gold. Ross is a second year waka ama exponent and said as long as her parents continued to be involved she would be. Her father, Greg, is also no stranger to winning national titles in the sport.
"I like the whanau aspect of waka ama which is totally different to my other codes. But kayaking is my No 1 code and I want to paddle at the Olympic Games in the future ... I'm inspired by Aimee," Ross said referring to Hawke's Bay Olympian and 2016 Hawke's Bay Sportsperson of the Year Aimee Fisher.
During the February 17-19 national kayaking champs at Lake Karapiro Ross will compete in the K2 200m open women's event with Fisher. She will also tackle the under-18 K1 200 and 500m events.
"Making finals will be my main goal there. I was out of action with a shoulder injury for eight months last year and only started training again in August," Ross explained.
This weekend Ross will attend trials in Palmerston North for the New Zealand under-18 girls' canoe polo team. Should the former Hawke's Bay and Central Region rep get the nod she will play in the Oceania Champs in Palmerston North during July.
"I've got a pretty good chance as I'm the only player returning from the team which played at the Oceania Champs in Melbourne in 2015 and if my kayaking goes to plan this could be my last year of canoe polo," Ross said.
Like her father, she is a member of the Ocean Beach Kiwi Surf Lifesaving Club. At the recent Central Region champs at Waimarma Ross was a member of her club's winning under-19 surf canoe team.
The following day she represented Hawke's Bay in the New Zealand Open Surf Life Saving Representative Challenge at Waimarama and combined with clubmate Scott Bicknell to record a second placing in the ski relay behind Olympians Kayla Imrie and Marty McDowell.
"Those two can continue to do surf lifesaving while being Olympic reps at kayaking. There is always a high demand for paddlers in surf lifesaving so I will stay on call for that code," Ross said.
She will compete at the national surf lifesaving championships in Christchurch during March.
"I enjoy doing all four codes but it is costly. I got a new waka for $5000, a second-hand K1 kayak for $2000 and a canoe polo boat for a similar price. I have to have three different paddles and the cheapest is $400 so if anybody can assist with sponsorship it would come in handy," Ross added.
There's no doubt Ross has the goods to emulate some of her idol Fisher's feats. Once this happens she can expect an influx of potential sponsors.