We are excited to announce the newest member of our team of Outdoor Addicts, we welcome international para-canoeist AJ (Amanda Jane Renyolds), to the team. AJ is a very determined women who has put in a huge effort to achieve so much so far with much more to come, and yet still finds time to mentor and encourage others.
AJ’s path to becoming an internationally competitive para-canoeist has been defined by a determination to control her own fate.
At the age of 17, a dislocated knee caused ongoing injury that would consume AJ’s life for almost 20 years. Triggered by the smallest strain, the recurring injury could not be helped by numerous operations and prescriptions. The doctors eventually discovered that AJ’s condition was being further aggravated by a central nervous disorder which lead to stronger pain medication being administered. AJ was benched firmly on the sidelines and driven to ask the radical question, would her quality of life be better without the leg?
In April 2012 AJ, alongside her husband Wayne and two sons, Broc and Tyler, made the decision to amputate the lower part of her right leg. After years of living in pain this drastic action would see AJ take control of her life and not only survive but thrive.
For herself and the unrelentingly support from her family, electing to remove the leg that had consumed her life for so long was absolutely the right choice. Eventually free from medication and fitted with a prosthetic limb, AJ took on her first canoeing challenge with a friend. Completing the annual Murray Marathon (now named the Massive Murray Paddle). AJ set the foundations for an escalating set of challenges, taking on and dominating the para-canoe world.
AJ had a steep learning curve but excelled in the sport and is still continuously improving. Since her first paddling she matched her steep learning curve with an equally steep rise to success with no sign of slowing down. Her debut to international racing, at the 2014 World Canoe Sprint Championships in Moscow, earned her a bronze medal and showed her that there wasn’t much between her and being the best in the world. In the following year she assessed her strengths and weaknesses and developed a plan of attack to make the next leap up the ladder. The following year, at the 2015 World Canoe Sprint Championships in Milan, AJ smashed out the best race of her life and the rest is history. Following the World Championships, AJ competed at the Rio Olympic Test Event where she backed up her victory again. The now World Champion has her sights set firmly on Paralympic Gold in Rio 2016 and making herself untouchable by anyone in her league.
AJ’s success has earned her support from the Victorian Institute of Sport, Australian Institute of Sport, and Australian Canoeing.