About Anna

Anna Hemmings MBE is best known as Britain’s most successful ever female canoeist, a two time Olympian and 6 times World Champion.  However, in April 2009 after 15 years at the highest level of the sport Anna decided to retire from professional sport.  


She is now the Director and co-founder of Beyond the Barriers, an organisation dedicated to improving health and performance in individuals and organisations. Anna is adept at translating the lessons that she learned in sport and into the business world and as such is an excellent presenter, workshop facilitator, performance coach and licensed 1:1 HeartMath coach.

Anna had a glittering sporting career; she first broke into the top flight of the sport at the age of 19 when she won her first European Championships in marathon canoeing. In 1999 she defended her title and went on to win her very first World title. Anna is the only British female canoeist to ever hold both European and World marathon canoeing titles concurrently (1999 and 2005). Throughout her career she won a staggering 11 World and European Championship medals.  

Anna is also a two time Olympian, having competed in the 2000 Sydney Olympics in the K1 500m event and at the 2008 Beijing Olympics in the K2 500m event partnered by Jessica Walker.


Like many journey’s, Anna’s was not without struggles. In April 2003 Anna was diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome and was told by medical experts she might never race again. Anna was burdened by this illness for two years, but despite being told there was no solution, Anna’s ‘never give up’ attitude along with a treatment called Reverse therapy, enabled her to make a full recovery. In 2005 she signalled a miraculous return to fitness by regaining her status as the World’s leading marathon canoeist at the Marathon Racing World Championships in Perth, Australia. In the years following Anna went on to make it a hat-trick of three World titles in a row. 



Watch Anna regain her status as the World’s leading marathon canoeist at the Marathon Racing World Championships in Perth, Australia in 2005.



Anna's achievements were recognised by various bodies including The Sunday Times Sports Woman of the Year Awards where she won the 2005 Champions Award and by the BBC when she was voted 2007 BBC London Sports Personality of the Year. Anna was awarded an MBE in the 2010 New Year’s honours list for services to sport. 

In 2001 Anna graduated from Royal Holloway College, University of London with a BSC Honours degree in Economics and Management (2:1). In 2007 the University recognised Anna’s achievements and awarded her with an Honorary Fellowship.


Alongside her sporting career Anna built a reputation as a world class speaker. She continues to inspire corporate audiences with her tale of triumph over adversity. Anna is also working in sports broadcasting as a presenter and commentator for the BBC and Eurosport.

Career Highlights

  • 6x World Champion (1999, 2x 2001, 2005, 2006, 2007)
  • 3x European Champion (1997, 1999, 2005)
  • Beijing 2008 Olympian 15th
  • Sydney 2000 Olympian (semi finalist)
  • World Cup Winner 1997, silver medallist (1995)
  • 2x World Championship silver medallist (1996 and 1998)
  • 2005 Sunday Times Sports Personality of the Year, Winner of the Champions Award
  • Elmbridge Sports Personality of the Year 1997,1999, 2001,2006, 2007
  • Honorary Fellowship awarded by Royal Holloway University in 2007
  • 2007 BBC London Sports Personality of the Year
  • Surrey Sports Personality of the Year 1996 and 2008
  • Awarded an MBE in the 2010 New Year’s Honours list



Training for the start of the
Olympic season in 2008


Victory in the 2006 Marathon Racing
World Championships


2005 Sunday Times, Champions Award


Jessica Walker – my K2 partner in
Beijing and my coach Miki


Very excited and arriving in Beijing
airport for the 2008 Olympic Games