Megan Blunk, who broke her back in a motorcycle accident five years ago, won two silver medals for Team USA last week at the Paracanoe World Championships in Duisburg, Germany.
The Peninsula High School graduate from Lakebay is partially paralyzed from the waist down and recently took up kayaking.
Blunk was 18 and had just graduated high school when she was in a motorcycle accident in July 2008. Now she says it taught her a valuable life lesson.
“It was the best thing that could’ve happened to me,” Blunk said. “I focused more than ever before on overcoming my insecurities. Before my accident, I was pretty good at all the sports I played, but I took them for granted. I never want to do that again. I try to train as hard as I can, and I don’t want to have regrets.”
Her silver medals came in the Trunk and Arms classification, and she placed second in the women’s K-1 (kayak) and V-1 (outrigger) races.
Still, she said she could have got first, especially in the K-1 race, during which she finished only a half-second behind the winner, Emma Wiggs of Great Britain.
If she had another chance, Blunk said she would have gone about the race differently.
“I know exactly why I lost,” she said. “That’s the hardest part. I was ahead of her. My plan was just focus on my race and go straight ahead, and not think about anything else. I looked over at her to see where she was. It was my first world championship race. Looking over there took away from the strength I could put into my strokes.”
Blunk said the result wasn’t what she hoped for, but the race will make her even better.
“I’ve been told my whole life not to look behind me,” she said. “I think I finally learned my lesson completely. I’m never going to look around again. I’m going to focus so much better from now on, so I’m thankful for that. I have a lot more motivation now, and I learned so much on how to concentrate.”
Blunk is representing Team USA, an experience that has taken her to different spots in the world, and she’s relishing the opportunities. Since Blunk placed second, the American flag wasn’t hung high in the center of the podium. She hopes that will change next time.
“I didn’t realize how much it meant to me, or how big of a deal it was until I was up on the podium and the flag had raised,” she said. “It was pretty cool. I want to see it in the middle, raised it as high as it can, with our national anthem being played.”
Blunk is focused on kayaking, but she also plays wheelchair basketball at the University of Illinois. She trains vigorously for kayaking during the summer when she gets back from school.
“When I come home around May 10, I start kayaking every day — sometimes two times a day,” she said. “I work out two times a day also, sometimes four times a day. I did a few races this summer, and that helped me, because I just started last summer.”
Blunk hopes to participate in the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in wheelchair basketball and kayaking.
“My goal has been for wheelchair basketball,” she said. “That’s been my goal for the last four years, and now I’m playing in college. We practice every single day. I have a pretty good chance right now.”