I’m Still World Champion
Eglinton teenager Megan Gamble is the first Junior World Surf Kayak Champion having won the title in Peru last year.
The ongoing coronavirus outbreak has seen sporting events cancelled or postponed across the world and this year’s World Championships due to take place in Huanchaco Peru, has also been a casualty which means Megan, a pupil at Thornhill College, retains her title for a second year.
Despite the disappointment of missing out on this year, Megan retains her focus on next year’s World Surf Kayak Championships which will take place in Cornwall, England.
“Last year was the very first time the World Surf Kayaking Association had awarded the title of Junior Women’s World Surf Kayak Champion and I am so proud to be the first to win it and to be recognised and rewarded in what is a male dominated sport.
“It was such a major achievement for me and it was great that all the hard work and commitment paid off.”
Megan, who is a member of Paddlesurf Ireland - an all-Ireland club with members from Londonderry/Derry, Donegal, Mayo, Cork, Kerry, Kildare, Dublin - also competed in Peru in the world championship team event.
“I competed with Team Ireland and we achieved third place ranking in the world which was such a major achievement for everyone involved with the team.”
“Unfortunately this year’s World Championships were cancelled, however that means I will hold the title of Junior Women’s World Surf Kayak Champion for two years.”
Megan first found a love for surf kayaking when she was just 11 years old.
“I was already kayaking on rivers and lakes since I was 10,” she explained.
“I had the opportunity to try surf kayaking in Portrush and loved it. I kept at it as I loved the challenging aspect to the sport and the encouragement from the surf kayaking community and my older brother Jamie was also a surf kayaker.
“I enjoy the freedom of being in the water and the constant challenges while on the waves.
“Every wave and the conditions are different when you go out on the water so you are constantly challenged to adjust and surf the waves the best you can.
“I also love the surf kayak community who are a friendly bunch and support each other.
“The amount of support I got when I was in Peru from Team Ireland and people from around the world was unbelievable.
“The other female competitors were so encouraging and motivated me to dig in and keep going!”
Megan(18) is no stranger to success having won numerous titles in her short career and hot on the heels of her World title win, she became Junior Women’s British Champion.
“Following the World Championships I competed in the Irish Open which took place in Easky, Co. Sligo in September 2019.
“I came second in the Junior High Performance and third in the Women’s High Performance.
“I then competed in the British Championships which were held in Freshwater West, Wales in October 2019.
“I came second in the Junior HP and third in the Junior International Class, competing against both boys and girls and I also won the title of Junior Women’s British Champion.
“I came fourth in the Women’s IC which is a huge achievement in a very competitive field.
“ I was delighted to be able to compete in both the Junior and Women’s categories and the competition was fierce which was great for me as it helps to improve my standard of surfing.
“As I am now 18 I will now be competing in the Women’s category only.”
Megan’s achievement on the world stage were recognised at the start of the year by the governing body.
“In January, I was nominated and received the Canoeing Ireland award for Junior Female Paddlesurf Paddler of the Year 2019.
“Canoeing Ireland is the Governing Body for kayaking and canoeing all across Ireland.
“These awards celebrate the achievements for paddlers across all kayaking disciplines in Ireland.
“I felt very honoured to receive this award for a second year in a row and that I was able to celebrate the amazing achievements with other talented athletes from Ireland.
“Along with the other athletes from the Irish surf kayaking team, we received our medal for achieving third place in the Team Event at the 2019 World Surf Kayaking Championships.”
To be a top surf kayaker you need determination, commitment and motivation - something Megan Gamble has in spades.
Not satisfied with being the best in the world, this talented teenager wants to help encourage other young women into the sport and inspire them.
“I have had to work hard, challenge myself and be self-disciplined to get where I have so far.
“You also need to have respect for the water and the other people out with you.
“I would also like to help promote young girls and women in the sport as it is very male dominated.
“I feel that by winning the World title I am opening doors for future women coming into surf kayaking and I can’t wait to encourage the next generation of female surf kayakers.”
Before the current lockdown Megan regularly met up with her fellow Paddlesurf Ireland kayakers, travelling to find the best waves along the north, west or south coast of Ireland.
“I usually surf kayaked in the north and west coast of Donegal - Ballyliffin, Tullan Strand and Rossnowlagh.
“In Sligo I would go to Easkey and on the north coast, I would head to Portrush and