RENO, Nev. -- Sports has helped many teens overcome physical, emotional and social challenges, but for Sage Donnelly, it's a way of life. She's a pre-teen, a national champion and a fighter.
"Oh my gosh I love the water. It's just so much fun. I'm always happy, excited, just pumped up."
Sage Donnelly has spent most of her 12 years of life in the water. A Freestyle and Slalom champion and a gold medalist at the Jr. Olympics, she has already made a name for herself as a kayaker.
"Just being able to throw myself in a hole and do aerial tricks and being able to go down rivers and see the beautiful scenery and being able to hang out with my friends, It's awesome, she said"
Sage practices about two hours, two to three times a day and when she's not on the water, she still maintains an active lifestyle with cardio workouts and weight training.
"I would love to do this for the rest of my life."
She trains all-year-round, but in her spare time, she give motivational speeches to classrooms, sometimes to people older than she is.
"People normally think that I'm not very social or anything but kayaking, I meet so many people," she said.
Sage is no stranger to beating the odds. She has diabetes, Celiac disease, and was just recently diagnosed with Thyroid disease, but that hasn't stopped her.
"I don't really want my diabetes or any of my diseases to hold me back...just go and follow your dreams," Sage said.
"There's always that extra element of worry but we really keep an eye on her and she's really good about feeling what her body needs and wants," Stephanie Viselli, Sage's mother said.
Sage is currently training for the 10th Annual Reno River Festival in May and prepare to compete for a chance at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Brazil.