Sports 18 Jan 2024

Representing Belgium at the World Junior Surfing Championships: June's story

By CIS Communications
Photograph by CIS Communications

The world’s best junior surfers went head to head at the World Junior Surfing Championships held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Our very own CIS husky, June, was selected to fly the flag for Belgium in the U18 category.

Growing up in a family deeply passionate about water sports, with both her mum and dad achieving national-level success in synchronised swimming and sailing respectively, June was a natural water-baby whose love for all things aquatic kicked in at an early age. We recently caught up with her to learn about her journey to national championships.

Hi June, congratulations on being selected to represent Belgium in the World Junior Surfing Championships! How do you feel?

When I learned my selection to represent Belgium for the World Junior Championships, it felt unbelievable. I was very motivated and excited to join the new adventure. I met a lot of new friends, rekindled with old friends from all over the world and learned new skills thanks to the incredible coaches from the national team.

When did you start surfing?

I was only three years old when I first surfed the waves of Indonesia. Initially, surfing was reserved for holiday travels as I discovered new reefs. Overtime, this evolved into weekends and eventually daily. I started competing from the age of fourteen. My results in competitions and the jury’s selection between other candidates is what got me the chance to represent my country in the world championships.

How did you train in Singapore?

My coaches suggested that I participate in sports that were related to surfing such as swimming, skateboarding, wakeboarding and I travel once every month to the waves closest to Singapore. At CIS, I train three to four times a week in the pool followed by gym sessions after. I really enjoy how my coach creates unique training sessions to help me learn and discover new skills.

How has the swim team at CIS helped you?

Being in the CIS swim team has helped build my confidence in the water and I found crossovers with surfing; for example, just like swimming, 80% of surfing is paddling, from getting to the peak and catching a wave, to returning to the peak again.

Competing in swimming teaches me to manage my stress levels while performing and this has helped me throughout my competition. Although swimming is pursued as an individual sport, the team spirit at CIS is so prevalent and I enjoy pushing our limits in sports together. Being both in a school and national team is definitely an experience I will never forget.

What was your biggest challenge faced as an athlete?

I suffered a back injury after the pandemic and for someone who enjoys sports, it was really hard to not perform for a long period of time. It definitely challenged my mindset as what should have been a three month long recovery, became a year. From this, I understood the importance of enjoying the present moment and realised that finding what you like is very precious.

How did you overcome it?

I also began sophrology lessons to learn the progress of a goal, how it's not always a one direction path with only ups and that it's normal to have plateaus in the evolution of a sport. There will always be a comeback. As Kelly Slater once said, “For a surfer, it's never-ending. There's always some wave you want to surf”.

Tell us a fun fact about your surfs!

To mark the beginning of 2024, on the first of January, I started my first surfing session in a tow-in with a jetski in big waves. It was my first time surfing a wave up to 8 metres!

That’s so impressive, June! Thank you for sharing your story, we hope you continue breaking not only your own records but also those of others.