The French SUP star’s accolades include five ISA silver medals, but going into this year’s event Olivia had never won a world title and been crowed world champion. This was a huge motivational factor in her switching equipment sponsors late in the 2018 season.
“At the beginning of the season I was very motivated and happy to work for a small SUP company, there was a rebound, a break and some doubts, but I always kept one goal in mind: to do my best and push women SUP racing to the next level. I believe in that old quote: ‘A winner is a dreamer who never gives up!'” Olivia
After standout performances in each of her events last week, with her new Hydro in hand and her Sonic under her Rogue board, Olivia achieved her dream, claiming her maiden world championship crown in the Women’s Distance SUP Race.
Competing for her home country in both the women’s Technical and Distance events this year, Olivia helped carry Team France to an overall third-place in China. Among the 26 countries in contention this year, only Team Australia (1st) and Team USA (2nd) out scored Team France with the combined efforts of their teammates which also included Black Project athlete Martin Vitry.
Contributing to her team’s overall bronze medal at the 2018 ISA Worlds, Olivia took first-place finish in the women’s distance event after a grueling 18-kilometer race for three laps around a five-buoy course offshore of China’s Shenzhou Peninsula. Olivia held a commanding lead for the majority of the race, and finished with a time of 2:14:10:52, more than a minute and a half ahead of the runner-up competitor, Australian stalwart Terrene Black (2:15:49:94).
“This gold medal is special, it represents the moment when I connected all the details that a professional athlete has to manage: training, technique, race strategy, health practices, diet (I’ve been a vegetarian for two years), mental strength, the relationship with my sponsors, the development of the equipment and the collaboration with the French Team.”-Olivia Piana
Olivia bolstered her gold in the distance race with a fourth-place finish in the women’s SUP Technical Final, a 5-kilometer sprint race featuring the world’s top talent. A perennial title contender in both the distance and technical events, her shot at gold in the sprints was as palpable as anyones going into the event. After finishing her first technical heat behind Black Project teammate Yuka Sato in Heat 3, she gave the world’s fastest women a run for their money in the Technical Final and finished fourth behind Candice Appleby (USA), Terrene Black (Australia) and Shakira Westdorp (Australia). Yuka Sato (Japan) came in fifth, rounding out the women’s Technical top-five with two Black Project paddlers.
“This first gold medal is only once in a lifetime. I am very proud and happy to have succeeded.” –Olivia Piana
With the final event of Olivia’s 2018 race season now behind her, she is heading into the offseason stronger and faster than ever. Needless to say, we can all expect great things to come from Black Project’s elite family of paddlers come 2019.
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