Not much fazes Sue Clarke. Not motherhood, not running a business, not two Olympic Games and certainly not cancer.
But when her 14-year-old son first flew over Huka Falls in a kayak, she admits she needed a big glass of wine afterwards to calm her nerves.
Little did she suspect at that moment just how far the sport of canoe slalom was going to take her, nor the lengths she would go to helping change the face of the sport in New Zealand.
And it's not over yet. After going to the Olympics with two of her kids - Bryden and Ella Nicholas - she's about to help youngest daughter Jane embark on a similar campaign. The 26-year-old Jane has put her medical career on hold while she tries to emulate her two older siblings and represent the Cook Islands on the biggest sporting stage of all, next year's Olympics in Tokyo.
And Clarke - one of the co-founders of the Bay of Plenty Garden and Arts Festival - has also signed on as event director for two major international canoe slalom events.
She will unleash her prodigious organisational skills on next year's Oceania championships and the world junior and under-23 championships in Auckland in 2021.
Those who know Clarke won't be surprised that at 60, she's working harder than ever. But a herculean work ethic was instilled in her a long time ago.
Her dairy-farmer dad, Bryden, represented New Zealand in squash and moved the family to Tauranga from Palmerston North to run the old squash courts in Seventh Avenue.
Mum Val had her real estate license and her own travel agency.
"They say the apple doesn't fall far from the tree and as a kid, I was stuffing pamphlets in envelopes to get a young squash player to the British Open. That's the sort of thing I'd end up doing now. Dad was always fundraising and promoting the Susan Devoys of the world. By osmosis, it's rubbed off."
After leaving school, she trained as a pharmacist, and by 22 was one of four partners in Brookfield and Faulkner's Pharmacies. They later opened Health Haven and the Photo Lab as well as a pharmacy in Thames. Clarke was in charge of marketing and promotions, which gave her an intro into event management.
She met husband Rob - a doctor who was born and raised in the Cook Islands - across the dispensary counter.
"My husband grew up with not much in the Cooks - all of them in a room with gravel on the floor - but they valued education and had a strong work ethic. He and three of his four siblings (two now dentists) came to New Zealand on scholarships as teens for their education. It was quite a different situation in those days even in terms of the racial tolerance. There weren't many Cook Islanders becoming GPs."
Also treading new ground was Clarke herself, who as a young mum set up the Bay of Plenty Garden and Arts Festival with members of her playgroup.
"We would go away once a year to other regions and experience their garden festival and over a few wines one night said: 'Tauranga needs one of these'."
The first festival in 1997 raised $100,000 for Life Education Trust. It then became biennial from 2000, alternating with the Tauranga Arts Festival. It's now run by a trust.
"It was just a roaring success. It's fabulous to see it's still going," she says.
Of her own Te Puna garden, she said she was a bit "fanatical".
"I had the kids all in their car seats with the headlights on planting plants!"
Even now, she thrives on a reasonable short night's sleep.
When the kids were young got involved in every parent committee and sports team and insisted all three did speech and drama.
"I used to say: 'Bryden, you never know, you might make the All Blacks and then have to give a speech', but it's been invaluable for them."
White water whiz
Until Bryden put his hand up for canoe slalom in Year 9 at Tauranga Boys' College, Clarke had never even heard of the sport.
Billed as rodeo on water, canoe slalom has kayakers battle giant rapids, eddies and boils, all while having to negotiate a series of both upstream and downstream gates on a set, timed course. It's fast, dynamic and, as Clarke and her clan discovered, a little bit addictive.
Bryden's adventurous sisters soon followed him into it at Tauranga Girls' College, while Clarke joined them, roped into helping organise races and teams.
She credits husband Rob with providing a great venue for getting confident in the water.
"We used to take them back to the Cooks for the holidays, and they'd spend a lot of time with their face under the water because you've got to be able to Eskimo roll," she says.
Talented though her trio are - all three are doctors - but it's Clarke whose kept their dreams afloat.
She has been a driving factor behind canoe slalom, starting off as a minority pursuit run nationally by a committee filled with parents, to an Olympic sport with a board, high-performance structure and professional staff.
Clarke's former business partner and fellow pharmacist Mike Sandlant knows a thing or two about combining a career with high-level sport - he managed the New Zealand cricket team for three years, and the pair would often cover for each other while on international duty.
Sandlant says Clarke is driven and organised and has pursued the sport to the "best of her endeavours".
"Once she got her teeth into something, she was like that."
She soon got her teeth into canoe slalom, especially when her kids started making national teams.
Clarke managed one of those trips to Europe where a young Tauranga paddler named Luuka Jones made her one and only national junior team.
Jones has since created history, representing New Zealand at three Olympics and winning a memorable canoe slalom silver medal at the Rio Games, but she remembers that first trip fondly.
"She made the trip so memorable and exposed us to the best parts of the sport, that I decided I wanted to pursue canoe slalom to a higher level," Jones recalls. "To celebrate with Sue in Rio after I won a medal was really special, as she has been such a huge part of my journey."
Ironically, Jones has had a major impact on the Nicholas family's Olympic aspirations. As New Zealand's leading female paddler for the past decade, since qualifying for the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Jones' dominance could have prevented the likes of Ella Nicholas getting to the Games.
That is until they leaned on their Polynesian ancestry. In 2007 the Oceania Canoe Association approached Ella (who was in the New Zealand junior team) about paddling for the Cooks to help the New Zealand and Australian qualification process. Ella missed out to Jones in 2008 but then did enough to qualify for the 2012 London Olympics.
She and Bryden then made it to the 2016 Rio Olympics, with Ella as flag bearer for the Cooks. As busy hospital doctors, the trio have also found competing for the Cooks a better fit than New Zealand where a greater time commitment is required.
The Rio Olympics were made even more memorable, however, when Clarke was diagnosed with breast cancer earlier in the year. She later had a mastectomy and was still having chemotherapy the week before she left for Rio, ending up in hospital with a nasty respiratory illness.
"I said goodbye to the kids from my hospital bed which was a very sad moment. I was not 100 per cent sure I was going to make it but I flew a week later and was okay. I was pretty determined to get there."
She's had some lymphoedema in her right arm since but is otherwise well and energised - she walks up Mauao several times a week with two girlfriends who accompanied her to every chemotherapy session.
"I keep busy and keep positive. It's very scary when you're diagnosed with something like that and you don't stop thinking about it but a lot of it is about your attitude."
And she's serious about keeping busy. Next month, she goes to Poland on a Prime Minister's Scholarship to attend this year's junior and under-23 world championships, getting useful tips which she'll apply to the 2021 event at the Vector Wero Whitewater Park in Auckland.
The 2021 championships will be just the fourth time they've been held outside Europe. Having helped put the bid together with Sport New Zealand, she resigned from Canoe Slalom New Zealand's board to take on the job of event director.
"It was quite out there for us to get it because it's a very Eurocentric sport," she says. "It'll be a big mission for (European athletes) to get to Auckland because it's not easy travelling with a kayak but it's going to be an amazing occasion.
"I'm feeling very positive. Every now and then I wake up in the night and think: 'What have I done?' Funding is probably my biggest challenge."
Having worked on other big events, she knows there will be other challenges too.
"When the world rafting championships were on, we had to get portaloos into the Rangitikei River and some local torched them and they just incinerated into a dinner plate-sized disc of molten plastic. Vector Wero is a commercial operation and everything is already set up, so we don't have those challenges!"
Jones says that hosting the championships in 2021 will be a huge undertaking but she has no doubt Clarke will do a great job.
"She works incredibly hard on any project she undertakes, to make it as successful as it can be. Her work ethic and drive is really inspiring.
"In my 10 years on the New Zealand senior team I have seen a huge transformation in canoe slalom and Sue is at the heart of it. So much of the work she does has a very big impact on the experiences of those involved."
And those experiences are likely to keep on coming. If Jones and the youngest Nicholas do make the Tokyo Olympics, Clarke will be there as she always has, every paddle of the way.
"There's no show without punch," she says. Many she's inspired on the water would agree.