Bernadette Wallace - Canoe

Bernadette, 31 in 2020, grew up on the Gold Coast catching waves, patrolling the beaches and paddling anything whether it be boards, ski’s, outriggers or kayaks. After many laps of Currumbin Creek she fell in love with the kayak and began pursuing her athletic career which took her to 5 Senior ICF World Championships as part of the Australian Sprint Kayak Team and saw her win two ICF World Cup Golds in 2013.


Unfortunately Bernadette’s kayaking  career on the world stage ended short after a health scare weeks before the Rio Olympic Trials. From here Bernadette turned to coaching abroad where she learnt the canoe discipline while trying to keep up with her junior athletes at Rideau Canoe Club, Ottawa, Canada. Finding this new challenge addictive and with a fresh perspective on paddling and life she took a chance to yet again pursue her Olympic dream at the age of 28 and moved back to Australia. While Bernadette called the Gold Coast home, she decided to base herself in Adelaide along side of Australian Sprint Canoe Champion Josephine Bulmer to be able to learn faster and get involved in the C2 (double) event. It wasn’t so easy with Bernadette having to adapt her body and mind to go from finishing a career in a boat that pursued an equal balance from left to right stroke to kneeling in a 35cm wide boat, paddling only one the left with no steering mechanism as fast as she can in a straight line. 


Bernadette is already #6 in the C1 5000 at the 2019 ICF Sprint Championships, placed 4th in 2019 ICF Sprint World Cup C1 5000, current C1 200 and C2 500 Oceania Champion, Australian Champion, Australian Record Holder and has her Olympic Ticket to Tokyo along side of her team mate and fellow South Australian, Josephine Bulmer. 


This South Australian C2 pairing is writing sporting history being selected to compete at the Tokyo Olympic Games as Australia’s first women ever to line up in the Sprint Canoe events. Bernadette is also studying a Bachelor of Design with Griffith University and working as a support worker for one of her Paralympic idols.



 The best thing about being a SASI Athlete 

My SASI Team which includes not only my coaches and training partners but the development squad, other athletes from other sports, alumni athletes, the sport scientists, the management, and medical staff all on board to help me achieve my dreams.


My favourite food to fuel me as an Athlete 

Oats with milk, blueberries, honey and cinnamon.


My favourite movie

The Sound of Music


My favourite colours 

Green, purple and red.


My sporting hero and why

Ken Wallace (Sprint Kayak 1x Olympic Gold, 2 x Bronze) because he is my brother, but also because he does the sport for the love of it and respects his competitors.


My Favourite possession 

My paddle.

The sporting activity I most like performing   

Besides paddling … I love to ice skate and surf.


If I wasn’t doing my current sport I would like to be

I have already been given a second chance at being an athlete and I chose canoe!

If I got a third … I might be a kayaker again.


The most important things in life

Finding purpose, passing knowledge, family and friends.


My Ambassador Activity tip

Make a goal no matter how big or small that excites you and gives you energy when you think about it. This will help motivate you on those days that it is too hard to get out of bed…because everyone, even elite athletes have those days.


My favourite way to keep active 

Getting down to the beach and catching some waves. Taking my puppy to the beach to do zoomies.

The sport I like watching the most 

I like to watch sprint canoe/kayak but I watch social basketball most weeks.


What sporting success looks like 

Small frequent improvements just outside the comfort zone that add up to something big.

Have a question about the Challenge?

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