Tribune-Herald Athlete of the Week: Puna Canoe Club paddling duo

  • Louie Mendonca and Bubba Baldado.

Louie Mendonca, Bubba Baldado • paddling
Louie Mendonca and Bubba Baldado were part of the Puna’s men 55 crew that won a state title at the Hawaiian Canoe Racing Association championships last Saturday on Kauai along with Afa Tuaolo, Steve Blyth, Troy Parker Bailey, and Dave Okita. The crew finished the season unbeaten, the only Moku O Hawaii team to do so.

Three years ago, Mendonca and Baldado were on the Puna men 50 crew that won a state title, along with Tuaolo. That 2016 crew also finished the season with an undefeated record. That trio also completed the perfect record feat in the men 50 and earned a state championship in 2015, proving that Green Pride only gets better with age.

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Mendonca took the AOW honor but passed along praise to his crew, especially Puna chief Tuaolo.

“I am honestly so grateful to paddle with a bunch of very dedicated and driven men,” Mendonca said. “Big mahalo to Afa, who has not only been our coach but a true inspiration for all of us to be the best we can be. He truly is an amazing person.”

5 questions

Favorite movie: Rocky

Favorite foods: Kalua pig, Lau Lau, ake, opihi, sweet Maui onions, Hawaiian salt

Favorite athlete: David Goggins

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Favorite thing about paddling: Training to win

Favorite spot on Big Island: King’s Landing

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