Breaking barriers is nothing new to award winning film maker Polly Green. After fifteen years as a professional white water kayaker, Polly Green exchanged her kayaking equipment for a movie camera and embarked on a new life making inspiring documentary films. In 2010, after four years away from competition, a friend convinced her to return to the river to compete in the 2011 World Champs.
Armed with her camera, Polly began to document what it really means to compete for the coveted title, showing a rare glimpse into the thoughts and dreams of the women competing.
Passing through her initial training sessions on the Kaituna River just out of Rotorua (NZ) to her acceptance in the NZ National Team to her arrival in Germany for the competition, Polly begins to realize that while she may have left kayaking, it has never left her. But nor has it waited for her.
Freestyle kayakers compete by performing as many tricks as possible on a stationary river feature. From the deceptively simple looking loops and cartwheels to the adrenaline spiking McNasty and Phonics Monkey, there are over 30 moves to choose from and can only be performed once in each run.
As the sport has gained more publicity and recognition, women are driving themselves to be as good as, if not better than, their male counterparts. On the water they have a mere 90 seconds – two 45 second runs – to show their stamina, skill and sheer determination.
Unfortunately for Polly, this isn’t her year and when she fails to make the first cut, she slips back behind her camera to take us on an exciting and inspirational journey with some of the leading women in the sport, talking to Ruth Gordon and Emily Jackson, both former world champs, about what being a world class kayaker really means with surprising results. Her attention then goes to Claire O’hara, from the UK, who, like Polly, came to Germany to realize a dream.
While all three have made the top five, rivalry on the water turns into support and long lasting friendships back on solid ground as the women discuss what training, competing and winning ultimately mean for each of them.
On the final day, Green follows Gordon, Jackson, and O’hara as they each take their winning game to the water.
Only one can win.