Sage Donnelly, kayaking phenom

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Updated: 8/13/2014 10:49 pm
RENO, Nev. ( & KRNV) -- The Reno River Festival returns to downtown this weekend, and the star from last year's whitewater events will return to defend her titles.

In the world of kayaking, Carson City native and 13-year-old Sage Donnelly is a true phenom. She won't tell you how accomplished she is, but don't let her modesty fool you.

Donnelly won her first junior national championship at the age of 11. After dominating the under-18 circuit, she's now one of the best amongst the pros; winning several titles starting last summer when she stood at the top of the podium in three events at the Reno River Festival.

"It was pretty amazing, I mean I was kind of in shock. Once they said 'Sage Donnelly is first' I was like...oh my gosh! what!?" Donnelly said.

Now, she's all in for her pursuit of kayaking. But her aptitude for extreme sports doesn't stop in the water. Donnelly has been skiing black diamonds since she was five, including the wall at Kirkwood, and can be found rock climbing in Yosemite.

Not impressed yet? The biggest challenge she faces does not happen in the water, or up in the mountains. It's happening internally.

Donnelly is a type-1 diabetic who also suffers from celiac disease, a severe form of gluten intolerance, along with thyroid disease.

"Some people they get diabetes and they're like 'oh no, I can't do the things I love anymore.' I've never let that stop me or anything, it's just part of my life," Donnelly said.

She certainly won't let it slow her down as she makes a push towards an Olympic bid in 2016. A few weeks ago, Donnelly won the US Junior team trial, but she's not quite old enough to compete. She won't be qualified until she's 15, and by then, she may very well be getting ready to compete in the 2016 Olympic games in Rio de Janiero. For now, you can catch her this weekend downtown at the Reno River Festival.
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