Canoeing legend wins world champs gold

DETERMINED: Rain Metsoja competed at the Canoe Marathon World Championships at Pietermaritzburg in South Africa.
DETERMINED: Rain Metsoja competed at the Canoe Marathon World Championships at Pietermaritzburg in South Africa.

EMERALD canoeist Rain Metsoja has returned from the world championships in South Africa with two first-place medals and a passionate determination to prepare for the Australian nationals next March.

Mr Metsoja competed in the ICF World Marathon Championships at Camps Drift in Pietermaritzburg early last month, where he placed first in the over-35 age group's 19.2km race.

He successfully finished first overall in the doubles over-35 race with fellow canoeist Roger French.

He also finished 10th in the open class 26.2km race.

Mr Metsoja said the atmosphere throughout the competition had been "huge”, with thousands of spectators lining the river and shouting encouragement to all the competitors involved.

He said he canoed when he was young and then took a break, but about four years ago rebooted his dedication to the sport and competed in the World Championships in Denmark in 2013 and again in Oklahoma in 2014.

Mr Metsoja, who is originally from Estonia, where he trained and competed at an elite but not international level, said he was achieving his dream of competing as an Australian citizen on the international stage.

The tiler, who splits his time between Emerald and Cairns, has based himself primarily in Emerald since 2005.

He lives near Fairbairn Dam, where he trains six days a week, leaving one day a week for fitness and running training.

"I like the rural atmosphere and I like the outback,” he said.

"I can train on the water in the morning and the afternoon most days in the week - I go twice a day if I can.”

Mr Metsoja said he would "wind down a bit” now but planned to ramp up his exercise schedule again after Christmas, ahead of the national competition in Adelaide.

"Competing for the country is the main attraction for me.

"When you go on the water, you never go on the water to lose, you go to win.

"The race is very long, so you have to stay positive.

"Mentally it's very challenging, but at the same time it's very rewarding.”

The medal tally for the South African World Championships was: South Africa 32, Australia 6, Canada 2, Argentina 2, Spain1, Belgium 1, Great Britain 1.

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