Mililani paddler overcomes obstacles in pursuit of Olympic dream

Ann Yoshida

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A Mililani resident has her sights on getting to the Olympics.

“I am training out in the water six days a week and then we do cross training, surfing or off-road handcycling,” athlete Ann Yoshida said.

Yoshida, 34, is an elite athlete. As member of the USA Canoe/Kayak National Team, she’s getting ready for the International Canoe Federation (ICF) World Championships in Germany next month.

But life hasn’t always been smooth sailing. Thirteen years ago, she was a passenger in a car accident in Utah. The crash left her with traumatic brain injury, ruptured aorta, in a coma for several months. When she woke up, she was paralyzed from the waist down.

“Adapting took a while in the beginning. It was hard I was re-learning everything for the first time,” Yoshida said.

The Mililani High School graduate adapted like a fish takes to water.

“I started seeing people with disabilities in a different way,” Yoshida said.

Her life path changed, aimed at giving back and helping others. She received her degree in speech pathology, worked as a professor in Korea, and is currently studying for her PhD in occupational therapy. And that’s not all.

“At this point in my life, I chose paddling and so I am going to paddle,” Yoshida said.

Ranked No. 1 in the country for female adaptive paddling, Yoshida says her mission is to help others fight their fears and find their potential.

“The everyday person can do anything they want cause a person’s potential is so great,” Yoshida said.

“Every now and then in your life you come across a person in some way that just changes your life and allows you to become a better person,” coach Shelley Oates-Wilding said.

Yoshida is already qualified for the Paralympic trials and hopes to paddle in 2016 summer Olympic games.

“I am going to do as much as I can and if that means going to the Olympics and I will go there,” Yoshida said.

Anyone who would like to help Yoshida in her efforts to get to Germany may visit this website.

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