Lasma Liepa is a Latvian woman who became European champion in 2016 at canoe sports.
Lasma Liepa is racing for Turkish national team for some years. As a Latvian she was the first person for Turks to join canoe race in Rio Olympics. As Latvia Magazine i have made a small interview with Lasma Liepa about her life and career.
Interview with Lasma Liepa
* First of us please tell us about yourself please.
– I was born 4th July 1988 in Riga, Latvia (at that time it was part of USSR ) After Secondary school started studies in Rīga Stradiņš University and got Bachelor degree in Health care and Phystiotherapy, but never worked as a physiotherapist. Then studied in Latvian Academy of Sports Education and got diploma for Sports specialist and kayak coach.
I like to travel, love animals and eat lots of food
* How did your sports life started ?
– Until 7 years i could not play outside on street as we were living in city center, just few weeks in summer, when my parents sent me to countryside. So i was pretty weak and uncoordinated and couldn’t run anything longer than one minute.
When got little older I tried out many things that could do after the school lessons, for example, folk dances, knitting, drawing, animation movies, sewing and other crafts, even went to arts school for one year, but never got in love with those activities. Then in 1999 got invitation to try sports climbing, so i went there and liked it. Slowly got stronger and in 2001 even won Baltic Open championships, also got some medals in local competitions, meanwhile tried other sports too, but didn’t liked any team sports or something that involved running
* And what about canoe? How did you start ?
– I had one friend who already was training in sprint canoeing and she said that I must try out this sports but i was not sure as I could swim just “like a drawning dog” But one year later i finally went to try. It was in September 2001. They gave me a life jacket boat and paddle and it was fun.
* Why canoe ?
– In 2002 had to decide which sports I will countinue… as kayaking was on Mondays-Wednesdays-Fridays, but Sports climbing on Tuesdays-Thursdays, but at that time should had started full week training in just one sports in order to achieve better results… I choose kayak.
* You had to move to Turkey for to go on Canoe sports. What are other difficulties in this sport ?
– This sports requires enormous strenght and endurance. A lot of work during 11 months each year. Mostly on water or gym. There is better climate in Turkey during the winters and more financial support from federation and government during the seasion. I had great opportunity to join the team and i didn’t wanted to waste it. In this sports the dominant countries are all from Europe, so it is very hard to qualify for Olympic games. We don’t get points or we don’t have some qualifying time, we should get on top 8-9 in World or top 1-2 in Europe to qualify. This makes our sport extremely competitive.
* Can you describe us your feelings when you became champion of Europe ?
– At first I could not believe it happened, but then understood that it is what it”s ment to be. I was working very hard all winter and spring and did very good race that day so I won
* Do you follow any other sports or do you wish you would have been player for any other sports ?
– I wish I tried athletics, but at that age was too scared from running I like to watch all Olympic games Summer or Winter – it doesn’t care. In winter I am following biathlon, skeleton, luge and bobslegh. In summer there is not enough time to watch other sports.
* Till what age do you plan to go on and do you have any goals to achive ?
– I will countinue professional training until 2020. Next year is Olympic qualification quota race at World championships. My target is to race K1 200 there and take quota, if that didn’t happen, then use last chance in 2020 spring at European region qualifications. So my target is Tokyo 2020 and stop professional trainings after that as I will be 32years old and then focus on “normal life”. Maybe work as coach in this sports.
* Any last message to followers ?
– Don’t be afraid of trying. If you not try, you lose 100%.
And I want say thanks to all my friends and family who understand me and doesn’t mind to see me few times per year or just on tv or internet
Also say thanks to Turkish Canoe federation, my kayak club in Antalya and my National team coach Dragan Plavsič for all the support they give me.
Thanks to Lasma Liepa for this interview!