From a viral hashtag a decade ago and social media phenomenon to a lifestyle movement, van life, is still strongly resonating. It’s the aesthetic, the open road, the freedom that it evokes that captures our imagination. So what is it like to travel in a van as a pro SUP athlete? Is it as slick […]
Since becoming NSP National Team Rider in 2020 Mia Soares Sliva (#supmiaproject) has not only won the National SUP Race Sprint Champion title in her age category but has been taking podiums at major SUP events in Portugal, Spain and beyond. At only 15, Mia is one of the youngest NSP Team Riders with an impressive track record of achievements and following among her SUP peers willing to learn from her. TotalSUP caught up with this driven SUP rider to chat about the highs and challenges of becoming a pro and inspiring the next generation of young SUP athletes.
Hi Mia, welcome to TotalSUP and congratulations on your amazing start to the season! How did you get into the sport of stand-up paddleboarding?
My first contact with the sport was in 2015. I was 8 years old, on a trip to the sports park of a former Olympic Canoeing athlete, Belmiro Penetra. I had some training with Belmiro, who happens to be a friend of my dad, We loved it and everybody in the family started to practice stand-up paddleboarding.
I’ve kept training with my dad, António Silva, SUPInhas President & ASUPP accredited SUP Coach, and friends, until the day I told him that I wanted to compete. Throughout 2019 I trained with my first main Coach Ângela Fernandes (three-time National SUP Champion) from the Surf Club de Viana.
The disciplines I like the most are the sprints and long distance where I feel good and comfortable with that type of competing. I also surf, wave SUP and I’m learning windsurfing… I also love to skate!
What’s the SUP racing scene and the SUP community like where you’re based?
At this moment in Portugal we have two federations organizing competitions: Portuguese Surfing Federation and Portuguese Canoeing Federation. Last year I attended at the ICF World Championship in Hungary, through the F.P.C. where I got a 7th place in the Long Distance and 7th in the Sprints junior female. I had just turned fifteen the day before, so it was a very special birthday to me. This year many SUP competitions are taking place and all clubs in the country are joining in. Stand-up paddleboarding is currently experiencing a massive growth in Portugal.
My club at the moment has the biggest number of SUP athletes and is one of the most competitive. Local governments are supporting the sport, because of the growth. In my case SUPinhas are my biggest supporters.
Who inspires you in the world of stand-up paddleboarding?
Since I was very young, we’ve all been big Fiona Wylde fans, we follow her career and she is an inspiration for me. I had the privilege of spending time with her in Hungary and it was great!
Then it’s our top NSP rider Titouan Puyo who is a very special person to me.
I also admire Bruno Hasulyo who lives and trains in Portugal, he is a fantastic athlete and a great source of inspiration. I’m lucky to call myself his friend. It was because of him that I joined Team Suponepaddlesurf Junior.
How do you prepare for SUP racing competitions?
I train every day and depending on the competitions we have scheduled we focus specifically on the format of those competitions. My coach Rui Ramos adapts my training, mixing the functional elements and time spent on water.
In terms of gear and logistics it is my father and SUPinhas who take care of everything, from boards, equipment to travel arrangements.
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It must be hard to juggle school, training and time you’d like to spend with your friends. How do you stay motivated to train and compete?
It is very difficult to juggle training with school and social life with friends. I’m always running against time and sometimes I have to give up on something.
My parents support me throughout and without them this lifestyle would be impossible because most of the time my training sessions are not in the same city where I live so we drive hundreds of kilometers every week so that I can train. But I love to compete so not a problem for me.
Your 3 top tips for young, aspiring SUP racers…
Well, I would say that SUP is a beautiful sport that will grow more and more in the world. It’s a great discipline that activates all muscles body and practicing it is healthy.
One very important thing to keep in mind is to never give up… The beginnings are not always easy, sometimes even very hard. There’s a long way from the start to achieving that competition rhythm… but don’t give up because it will be worth it… I love it and that is what keeps me motivated.
At the moment I have young SUP athletes from all over the world asking me to join them and whether I could participate in competitions in their countries… I love that feeling! I get the idea that riders appreciate the work I put into the sport and how I’m am developing.
Could you tell us more about your collaboration with NSP?
I’m a NSP Europe Team Rider. I’ve been with NSP for 3 years and I can’t imagine myself with another brand. I love the boards I race and I’m waiting for the 2022 models of NSP Carolina and Puma.
This year the brand gave me the opportunity to compete in some of the Eurotour races and I will be participating in the ones held in Spain and Paris.
What’s your NSP set up?
Currently my main board setup is the NSP Ninja 14×20, NSP Carolina 14×20.5 and NSP Puma 14×23. If I have the opportunity to attend the ICF World Championships in Poland this year, I will take my NSP FSL 14×25 inflatable race board.
What are your professional SUP plans and dreams?
I think the first dream has already been achieved. It’s the dream of a girl who started practicing the sport with her father and friends at the weekends and saw the competitive side of the sport as her way of life.
From now on, the main goal is to become a professional SUP athlete in a few years and to do the whole World Circuit, side by side with my SUP idols.
I’d like to thank everybody who helped me to get where I am – Avianense, Kult, Municipio de Esposende, Clube Fluvial Vilacondense, my coach Rui Ramos and my family!
Thank you for your time Mia and good luck with your amazing plans and the 2022 racing season!
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