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Chelsea canoeist Sophia Jensen wows at world championships

The 16-year-old improved upon her double silver performance from the same competition last year. She spoke to All In A Day's Giacomo Panico on Thursday, two days after her triumphant return from Europe.

The 16-year-old athlete's 3 gold medals were an improvement over her 2 silver medals from last year

Chelsea's Sophia Jensen took home three gold medals from the 2018 ICF Canoe Sprint Junior and U-23 world championships in Bulgaria over the weekend. That's an upgrade over her double silver performance last year. (Giacomo Panico/CBC)

Sophia Jensen, from Chelsea, Que., has brought home three gold medals at the 2018 ICF Canoe Sprint Junior and U23 World Championships in Plovdiv, Bulgaria.

"It still really hasn't hit me. I'm still trying to wake up," said Jensen. 

The 16-year-old improved upon her double silver performance from the same competition last year. She spoke to All In A Day's Giacomo Panico on Thursday, two days after her return from Europe.

Jensen said she was disappointed with her performance during the preliminary heats, dealing with nerves and the pressure of exceeding last year's medal haul.

But the finals were a different story.

"My whole team came up, sprayed champagne on me. We celebrated on the dock for a bit. It was awesome," she said, of her first gold of the competition. Jensen added she isn't sure if she could legally drink champagne in Bulgaria.

Sophia Jensen, 16, describes winning the first of three gold medals at the world championships. 0:49

"After getting the first I was just excited to do better and push myself harder. The 500 [metre] is definitely the hardest race I've ever done in my entire life. I pushed myself so hard in that race," she said. 

Jensen took the C1 500 event by more than four seconds, a sizable margin. The C1 200 event, on the other hand, was tighter. She won that race by about half a second.

Jensen teamed up with Julia Lilley Osende to take the C2 500 event as well.

With her muscles burning in the midst of the individual 500 race, and mindset wavering, she said she turned to a coping technique that's served her well: singing. 

"Usually I hit a point where I'm about to cry or I think about how tired I am but I sing a song actually, just to get my mind off of it. I actually sing the Adventure Time [cartoon] theme song," said Jensen. 

Sophia Jensen, front, celebrates after completing her gold medal race in the C2 500 event at the world championships in Bulgaria. (Radio-Canada)

Proud to represent hometown and home country

"Last year I wasn't expecting to make junior worlds at all," she said. "This year I went in knowing I definitely could do better. But I just go in hoping for the best and having a good race and feeling good."

Jensen is mindful that she's not only representing Canada, but her hometown of Chelsea, Que. too.

"It's just so awesome. I love being a role model for all the athletes and motivating them to go further and push harder. They can do whatever they put their minds to.

"Representing Canada, I'm just honoured to do that. It's incredible. I love being on the world stage and I love having my whole community watch me."

With files from CBC Radio's All In A Day