Alison Herst - From running up Burnaby Mountain to world champion
A member of the North Bay (Ontario) Canoe Club, Alison Herst escaped the winter cold to train in B.C. The dual coast training paid off when she became a world champion in 1995. Now a paddling mom, Herst says kayaking taught her resiliency, self-confidence and perseverance.
How did you get started in paddling?
At 11 years old, I joined the North Bay Canoe Club and found my passion in sport. My brother and good friend were already paddling and from the first day I spent there I was hooked.
Incredible athletes, such as, Barb and Nancy Olmstead soon became my role models. It wasn’t long that I wanted to compete in the Olympics and started to focus completely on that journey.
Why were you in BC?
I spent many winters training in Burnaby and Victoria. I fondly remember the early morning runs up that awful hill to the university!
What are your paddling career highlights and accomplishments?
- Canadian Championships
- 1992 Olympics (Barcelona): K4-500 6th, K2-500m 5th
- 1993 World Championships (Copenhagan): K4-500 4th, K2-500 4th, K4-500 4th
- 1994 World Championships (Mexico City): K4-200 BRONZE, K2-500 4th, K4-500 4th,
- 1995 World Championships (Duisburg): K4-200 GOLD, K2-500 5th, K- 500m 4th
- 1996 Olympics (Atlanta): K4-500m 5th
What makes kayaking a great sport?
- I loved the combination of power and speed kayaking entailed. The feeling of your boat gliding across the water was an incredible feeling.
- Feeling the power behind me in a K2 or K4
- Kayaking allowed me to travel across the world and meet fantastic people
- Most importantly, kayaking taught me resiliency, self-confidence and perseverance.
Are you still involved in the paddle sports?
My youngest daughter kayaks for the North Bay Canoe Club, I absolutely love watching her kayak or going in a k2 with her. I want her to learn the importance of teamwork and resiliency that sport can provide.
What impact did paddling in have on you?
- Today, I look back at my athletic career and realize how important the tough training, lonely training camps and immense pressure to succeed molded and influenced who I am today.
- My advice to young athletes is to never lose sight of your moral compass, some great advice I was given was “the higher you climb the mountain the harder the wind blows”.
- You will need to stay grounded to your beliefs and integrity as you get pulled in many directions. I was lucky to be surrounded by incredible coaches and built strong friendships and very thankful for supporting family and friends who never missed a competition.