Evy Leibfarth, 20, is one of the youngest and most decorated paddlers in the world. At 14, she became the top-ranking female paddler in the United States. At 15 she earned her first World Cup medal, and at 17, she competed in the Tokyo Olympic Games in 2021.

“It feels like I'm accomplishing my childhood dreams,” said Leibfarth. “I want to try to grow the sport, I want to get more young girls into it. And then I want to accomplish my personal goals like winning an Olympic medal and winning a world championship. And it's just fun to know that this is just the beginning.”

Now, she has become the first American woman to qualify for three paddling events in the Olympic Games after earning her spot in both kayak slalom and kayak cross, the latter being a new event for this year’s Olympic Games in Paris.

It’s a relatively small sport, with approximately 300 people who travel to compete at the events. After competing for three to four years, Leibfarth has formed great relationships with her peers.

“One of the most challenging things is definitely the fact that it is your friends that you're competing against,” she said. “I think that sometimes it's hard to separate that when you're trying to just make it through your heat.”

It’s a well-rounded sport when it comes to training with kayaking drills and strength training at the gym working on the upper body, abs, and aerobics. With the amount of training, maintaining energy, and getting enough protein is important.

“I pretty much eat whatever I want in moderation, which just works best for me,” she said. “Also just, enjoying everything because I feel that's more important than just trying to restrict what I eat or anything around competition. I'm not eating anything that I wouldn’t in a different part of the year.”

Spoon University had the opportunity to chat with Leibfarth at Red Bull’s New York office about her favorite foods.

Spoon University: What is your favorite food?

Evy Leibfarth: I have a lot of favorite foods. My favorite dinner would be Spanakopita — absolutely adore. I love Greek food. And then I love anything sweet — raspberry little tarts are so good. I feel like it changes, I just love having a little sweet treat and a coffee every day. It makes me so happy. How am I supposed to go about my day without my sweet little treat? It’s like a reward!

Spoon: What is your favorite sweet little treat?

EL: I feel like a lot of times I'll get a banana bread or something, toasted with a little bit of butter. I really love strawberry white chocolate muffins. There’s this place in Australia, this cafe called Henry Marc, and they have raspberry white chocolate muffins once every two months and they’re so good!

Spoon: Are you a coffee drinker or a tea drinker?

EL: Both. It depends [on] where I am in the world. When I'm in the U.S., definitely a coffee drinker — iced latte all the way, cold or lukewarm. When I was at college, I had a Keurig, and I'd make my coffee in the morning, I'd go to the gym, come back, and it'd be the perfect lukewarm temperature. I just don't like hot drinks.

Spoon: Do you have a coffee shop that you absolutely love?

EL: It's from my hometown. It’s called Dulce Vida. I live in a super tiny town in western North Carolina. It's just this cute little cafe. Whenever I’m home I'll go there with my mom, and it's just a cute little mother-daughter-like place that we always go to.

Spoon: Do you have a go to fast food chain?

EL: Probably Taco Bell. It’s the road trip food.

Spoon: What’s your pre-workout snack or meal?

EL: [I] definitely always eat something before my workouts, probably I'd grab a Red Bull and a granola bar. I love those baked granola bars, they're a little square. Those are so good.

Spoon: Do you have a go-to snack?

EL: Oh, it changes so much. Recently, it has been a yogurt bowl. So [it’s] yogurt, then raspberries, sometimes mango — even though I'm a little allergic. Like is my throat scratchy? Yeah, but it’s fine. Anyway, some fruit, I'm not a big granola in yogurt person, just some fruits and then some chia seeds.

Spoon: It's 12 a.m. and you’re starving. What food are you going for?

EL: I always have some of the weirdest cravings, I normally go for some pickles and turkey. Actually, when I flew here to New York, I was sitting in my hotel room, and it was 1 or 2 a.m. and I was like, ‘I'm fine. I don't need dinner.” Then, I was like, “Yes, I do.” So I ordered wings and then from the gas station, I got a jar of pickles and some shredded turkey. It was the best dinner ever. I stand by that answer. That's another post-workout snack, pickles and pickle juice. I always put a jar of pickles, my little Gherkins in my workout bag.

Spoon: Can you name your top five favorite things with pickles?

EL: Pickles and turkey, that’s always a slay. Pickles and watermelon. [Pickles] with just chicken, that’s a pretty standard one. Pickles and cucumber. And then, a sweet pickle and fruit roll up around it.