The inaugural edition of the Busan SUP Open, the APP World Tour’s Stop #3 in Korea delivered spectacular action and brought together the local SUP race community this past weekend on Gwangalli Beach. With the Gwangalli Bridge as a backdrop, SIC team rider from Japan Rai Taguchi makes a clean sweep and Danish new superstar […]
It’s been a busy month for Choi Ji Won, Starboard Rider and one of Korea’s leading SUP athletes, who’s just completed London SUP Open, the 2nd stop of the APP World Tour, and winning the women overall 4th position. TotalSUP has caught up with this up-and-coming athlete just hours before the next highly anticipated APP event – Busan SUP Open – and the first World SUP Championships held in South Korea.
Welcome to TotalSUP! Congratulations on your London APP World Tour Stop! How did you start your adventure with stand-up paddleboarding and SUP racing?
I first came across SUP in June 2015 and it started as a hobby. I started because I was drawn to the fact that I could easily access water sports in the city centre along with nature before going to work. Originally, I like water, so I was attracted to being able to exercise on the Han River. Then I started racing in marathons on the Han River.
When I first started SUP, there weren’t any domestic competitions, so I participated in competitions in Japan and Hong Kong near Korea. I won first place in the tournaments a number of times and my skills started progressing. That brought me to where I am now, on the current national team. Now, I enjoy paddleboarding not only on the Han River, but also in the sea, on lakes and in the valleys.
I began a new life in my 30s, when sports became my hobbies – This had led me to becoming a SUP athlete. And now, I am challenged by this sport as I compete with outstanding professional athletes in international competitions. While there are many things I lack compared to the world’s professional athletes, I challenge myself to get better without limits, reaching towards what I know could be possible. My whole life has changed because of SUP and it has brought good challenges with it.
Busan SUP Open – How have you been preparing for the event and what are your expectations?
On weekdays, I was SUP racing for about 10km on the Han River in Seoul. I was also going to Gwangalli Beach, Busan once every two weeks to do SUP race training for about 10km. I practice mainly when it’s windy as it helps me a lot to improve my balance. This way, I can go paddling with my own strength in a difficult environment. This is the first world SUP Championships held in South Korea.
I am looking forward to racing with international pro SUP athletes. After all of my training in Korea, I want to try to get to the 3rd place in this competition.
View this post on Instagram
Are you planning to compete in other APP World Tour stops?
Yes! I want to participate in a completely different environment than Korea. I have also made reservations to compete in Paris SUP Open and Alicante SUP Open in Spain which are held in December this year.
Thank you for your time and good luck with this weekend racing and the rest of the season!
*Photos courtesy of APP World Tour