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Jada's resilience; overcoming disappointment and adversity with a smile"

By Jada Mustafa-Moore

Age 18

C1 Premier, bib 2


My name is Jada Mustafa-Moore and I am 18 years old. This year was meant to be a big year for me. I had hoped that things would fall into place in 2020, with canoeing especially. My plan was to make the junior team, achieve top ten in the Euros/Worlds to make Podium Potential. Last year, I thought I gave my all to make the team and when I fell short, I was devastated. However I've always considered my resilience to be one of my best assets so all my focus went into this year and I pushed harder mentally, to work for it.

"Life to me is about not knowing what is going to happen but having faith in the ups and downs bringing you to those places on purpose."

With Covid-19 affecting us, my last year as a junior is far from what I thought it would be and made me question my future considerably. It has been very difficult for me lately to see a plan forward with everything up in the air, but canoeing is still my passion so I have motivated myself during quarantine to see that 2020 is still my defining year. Just not in the way I thought.  While this time in lockdown has had its positives, that doesn't mean there haven't been times where I haven't looked at my planner all week and felt so unmotivated. Strangely enough, this time to focus on the basics of my fitness and mental wellbeing have forced me to reflect. My self motivation has been challenged with having to do my training independently, but I have actually been able to work through it with my coach and find things to motivate myself.  For example, setting mini goals and having external things away from sport to build me up. I have also had some breakthroughs metally of how irrational thoughts can hold me back. Like, being perfect is essential, catastrophizing and depending my worth on my achievements. This time in lockdown has strongly influenced my character. Discovering I have this mindset is very important to my growth and this is now a big goal for me to change. I am still trying to find a way to stay at a high point all the time, but at the end of the day, knowing why you want to keep going is very important. Since starting canoe slalom in 2013, I have always wanted to get to the Olympics, as cliche as that sounds. I have endured a lot more than I thought in these last years. Coming into this sport, I always felt a step behind, or that I didn't know what everyone else did. This manifested after we were first picked for squads and I didn't have a clue what any of them were. I only knew I didn't make ENTS back when it seemed I should've. There have also been a lot of financial barriers throughout my time canoeing. It has been difficult to get to all of the camps and competitions because of money. Travelling around is so expensive and it has been difficult to even get squad fees in on time sometimes. This is one of the main problems I have had to face and witnessing the pressure that it has put on my mum has been a challenge. The things that influence me and contribute to my character stem from the challenges and hardships I have faced. Coming from a single parent home, being a mixed race girl and just being a girl alone have all influenced my personality. One of the reasons I want to help people is because there are so many people that have helped me. I hope to be that person, that others know they can come to. We have been lucky that Sport Aid has been instrumental in the last couple of years, which has been very helpful. I believe that the path I'm on was made to test me, to make sure this is what I wanted. I really didn't plan to get good at this random sport that honestly derailed my academic goals and took over my life. But I couldn't be happier with the things it has enabled me to achieve, like being the U23 and J18 National Champion that is ranked 2nd in the country behind the future Olympian for C1W. 

"Having no role models around me and having no black coaches has always been something that has made me feel out of place"

One of the things I have noticed about canoeing as a whole is that there is not enough diversity. I would really like to see British Canoeing try harder to accommodate paddlers and coaches from a BAME (Black Asian and Minority Ethnic) background, to support people such as myself. Having no role models around me and having no black coaches has always been something that has made me feel out of place. Going to remote parts of the country and being in these suburbs, even in the British Canoeing community I have felt and been treated with a different attitude and even discriminated against at races. I was nearly penalised for being mixed up with one of the only other mixed race girls in British Canoeing. A judge nearly disqualified me for not weighing my boat, even though I was never asked to. This led us to have to convince control, they had mixed me up with someone else. When myself and the other mixed competitor stood in front of him, he was honest enough to admit his careless mistake. It's moments like this where trying to enforce a change becomes even more important to me. I hope to work with British Canoeing in the future to see more diversity flourish and to use my unique position to change this for the future ethnic minorities in canoe slalom.  The attitude towards C1 women is a big problem that should also be addressed. The fact that C1 women as a category have a reputation for essentially being the joke of canoe slalom is so offensive to all that we have achieved. Many of the assumptions are hurtful and the abuse that many C1 women undergo is horrific. These opinions really stick with me as I feel like people don't take me or my paddling seriously. It only pushes me to prove them wrong. I encourage girls to play around because it's when i’m not expecting it that I manage to drop in a super smooth curl move. That's what makes me enjoy my paddling the most, no matter how unserious I may seem. I am so happy to be a C1 woman and I have never regretted dropping K1. 

"It's moments like this where trying to enforce a change becomes even more important to me."

I will be going to Westminster University in September, where balancing canoeing and a sociology and criminology degree workload will be a new challenge, but one I feel motivated to take on. My complete career goal is to technically have two degrees, a Human Rights law career and an Olympic medal. Being named one of Jess Fox’s role models was such an achievement for me, it put faith in the idea that I can make a difference, inspire some people and make them proud. That's a big passion of mine. I want to be able to help people and make them happy anyway I can. Canoeing is a big part of my character, it has shaped me to be the person I am and made me realise my strengths and flaws, but most importantly made me think about my future. I wanted to have a plan, but in sporting endeavours, the future will almost certainly be just as messy and disorganised as my past has been. Life to me is about not knowing what is going to happen but having faith in the ups and downs bringing you to those places on purpose. 

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