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Adya's Story

"I launched 'People of Colour Paddle' to get more folks from ethnic minority backgrounds into paddlesport so more people like me can enjoy the multiple benefits of this sport."

Growing up, physical activity was a chore and something that HAD to be done at school. The narrative around physical activity and sport was that it was only for boys, and girls weren’t really supposed to enjoy it.

My family weren’t particularly active, so it wasn’t something I saw anyone do at home regularly. Due to my family background, I embarked on an academic journey and didn’t have time to start thinking about getting active when I was at university or when I was completing my PhD.

It wasn’t my own motivation that got me thinking about sport.

Adya sitting in a green kayak, smiling at the camera, balancing the oar on her kayak.

I had moved to Sweden for work after my PhD and one summer, a friend persisted in getting me to try kayaking. She said “this is what we do in summer” but I worked very long hours as a researcher and kept putting it off.

After weeks of trying to convince me, I managed to get myself down to Lake Mälaren in Stockholm one Thursday evening after work and fell in love with kayaking.

I am now a kayak, canoe and paddleboarding coach with British Canoeing. In order to keep progressing as a paddler, I now run frequently, do lots of yoga, open water swimming and weight training.

I've launched People of Colour Paddle to get more folks from ethnic minority backgrounds into paddlesport so more people like me can enjoy the multiple benefits of this sport.

Adya kayaking on the water in a green kayak and holding the oar.

Paddling for me is a way of life, rather than exercise, so I try and get out whenever I can.

Some weeks, this means getting out early morning before work or in the evening after work. After years of putting myself second, I now work from home surrounded by lots of different water bodies so I can maximise my paddling opportunities.

I work full-time, so balancing personal paddling with coaching, training and fun is always a challenge. I have given up a lot to fit more paddling into my life, but I have no regrets.

Kayaking, canoeing and paddleboarding for me is life’s only constant and the only thing I can rely on with confidence.

It may sound odd, but it allows me to be myself, be present and in the moment more than I have ever been before or at any other place. It has seen me through many ups and downs in life and provided me with strength, confidence and conviction.

Paddlesport has allowed me to reconnect with myself and with nature, for that I will always be grateful to my friend who basically had to force me to try it in the first place!