Stand-up paddler Candice Appleby wins home gold – again – Orange County Register

Stand-up paddler Candice Appleby wins home gold - again - Orange County Register
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Candice Appleby was considering retirement, hanging up her competitive paddle to focus on her growing career as a coach and trainer for the sport she loves.

The longtime San Clemente stand-up paddler is one of the most successful athletes in SUP’s short history, dominating countless events over the years.

With her new business, Ocean Academy, thriving, arthritis in her hip, and multiple gold medals, trophies and victories under her belt throughout her competitive career, she thought, “This is my next chapter is my end as an athlete.

“It’s such an honor to be called a coach,” she added. “I was very happy.”

But for a fierce competitor like Appleby, 37, content isn’t enough. The competition was on again – and the stand-up paddler responded by winning a gold medal among the best in the world.

Appleby is back home after a stellar performance at the International Surfing Association World SUP and Paddleboard Championship in San Juan, Puerto Rico last week, an event that sees the sport’s best compete not only for the pride and medals for the country, but a chance to qualify for the 2023 Pan American Games in Chile, the second biggest sporting event after the Olympics.

It was the first comeback for the ISA SUP and Paddleboard World Champions after a three-year hiatus due to the pandemic. The San Clemente-based American team won bronze, with 10 individual medals, including teammates April Zilg and Conner Baxter who won gold in the SUP Sprint and Hunter Pflueger who took first place in the prone sprint and technical prone .

The French team won gold, Spain silver and Japan fourth with the cooper’s medal.

“It’s pretty amazing to be where I am and to win a gold medal again, it’s just a blessing,” Appleby said. “That baffles me a bit.”

Growing up, Appleby always wanted to be a competitive athlete, first seeing traditional surfing as her way to compete on the ocean. She was captain of the San Clemente High School surf team, helping to win four consecutive national titles.

She moved to Hawaii to attend college and hone her surfing skills, living on Oahu to train in bigger waves. But then, around 2006, stand-up paddleboards emerged. At first it was a new sport and no one was sure it would catch on.

At the time, there were still not enough women competing, so she was often the only woman at events.

In 2008 at Duke Kahanamoku Oceanfest, Appleby was the first and only woman to beat men in a professional SUP event, winning both the women’s and Open Pro divisions.

The paddle battle at Doheny State Beach grew during these early years, bringing more visibility to the sport. Appleby was still on the winners’ podium, winning six Battle of the Paddle titles, and three more when the event was renamed Pacific Paddle Games.

She has also dominated the biggest and most prestigious ISA SUP World Championships. She won gold in three technical races and two distance races, a silver in the sprint and a technical bronze.

One of his last events before the pandemic was the 2019 Pan American Games in Peru. She was leading the pack and riding a wave on the beach on her stand-up paddle board during the distance race when suddenly the wave came up and hit her hard, a strong rip current sucking her in again and again as she she was trying to find safety on the shore.

“It was really boring. It was the worst beating of my life. The tearing was the kind someone could have drowned in,” Appleby said of the event. been retained.”

The runner behind her, Brazilian Lena Guimaraes, also crashed. But instead of sucking her in, the wave pushed her towards the shore and towards the gold medal.

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