A Williamstown girl by heart, a specialised teacher by head, a loving daughter and sister by soul and now Cathy Venning is a champion marathon canoeist by body.
It's all these elements which have given the Encounter Bay woman the strength and determination to bring home medals in the Canoe Marathon Masters World Cup in South Africa in September.
Speaking from her parent’s Williamstown home, Ms Venning said the event was amazing and a great opportunity to honour her country.
"Having the ability to have a go at something and put your best foot forward was worth it,” she said.
Ms Venning, both a member and now president of the Encounter Bay Paddling Club, competed in the women's single (K1) gaining a bronze, then a silver in the mixed doubles (K2) alongside fellow club member Marc Brehin.
Her game day tactics included putting on a “race face” and giving it her all.
Ms Venning explained how this year four of the Australian competitors were from South Australia, two from our Encounter Paddling Club.
She also took her younger sister Bronwyn Venning, from Williamstown, along for team support and importantly – to keep proud mum Lyn and dad Glen updated with her events.
Ms Venning said her marathon efforts involved paddling about five and a half laps, which includes portage (carry and run) of the canoe, which can weigh between 7kg and 12kg.
She explained how portages helped to make canoe marathons a spectators’ sport.
"It makes it interesting for them.”
Her introduction to the water sport began when she decided to head out “for fun".
“A friend asked me to come and have a try and I have not looked back since,” she said.
The journey also led her to join up with Ruth Roberts, former manager of Williamstown's Abbeyfield aged care facility, who a few years back paddled The River Murray to raise funds for the site.
"Grandma and Gramps were in Abbeyfield at the time and I ended up paddling about 40kms across Lake Alexandrina,” she said.
Little did she know back then the sport would lead her to coaching junior members of the Encounter club and take on the role as president, let alone compete nationally.
The student wellbeing teacher, who follows closely in her parents’ footsteps by supporting her community, admitted she's had to step back from a few volunteer roles in order to achieve success.
Lyn and Glen were awarded Barossa Council's Citzen of the Year award in 2015 for selfless and largely unacknowledged actions that have enriched the lives of those in the Southern Barossa community, including Abbeyfield.
“I have certainly learnt a lot from mum and dad,” Ms Venning said.