Scottish teenager Ieuan James (Forth CC) is continuing Great Britain’s tradition of success in the K1 200m sprint canoe event after becoming Junior Sprint European Champion in the event at Belgrade this afternoon.
In a tight finish between three athletes, the Edinburgh 18-year-old took gold by just 0.15 seconds ahead of Russia’s Anton Sashilin.
“When I crossed the line I knew I had a medal because the three of us were in a bunch but I had no idea I had won gold,” said a delighted Ieuan.
“Then I heard my name over the tannoy about 20 seconds after and that’s when I knew I’d won.
“It’s a massive confidence boost going into the Worlds and it shows I’m right on track.”
Britain’s Liam Heath won the K1 200m sprint event at the Rio 2016 Games whilst in London 2012 Ed McKeever took the title.
Now based full time at British Canoeing’s High Performance Centre in Nottingham - having relocated from Scotland after developing his canoeing with the successful SCA Talent programme under the guidance of Kristina Medovcikova - Ieuan has been getting good advice from Jon Schofield who partnered Heath to the K2 200m silver in Rio and bronze in London.
“A lot of Jonny’s work ethic and training has rubbed off on me and he’s a brilliant questions man,” said Ieuan.
“I’ve fired every thought I’ve had at him and he’s been more than happy to give me his time to answer me.
“It’s really great to know that there’s somebody out there at the top looking out for the younger athletes.”
Before today Ieuan had never won a major championship and in the lead up to the final it was not obvious that he would perform quite so well.
“I had such a rough run through the heats and the semi finals that I told myself on the start line this afternoon I’d take top six,” said Ieuan, whose previous best had been a sixth place in the K1 event at the 2016 World Championships.
“The conditions were a little bit different today. It was a headwind which is a lot more like what I’m used to training in at Nottingham. So, I think it counted for a lot.
“And a lot of people around me were more convinced than I was that I was going to win. Having so many people saying positive things the night before and this morning rubbed off on me. It made me believe that I actually could.
Then when the buckets dropped I had an absolute stormer of a race– Ieuan James
Ieuan’s gold was the second of the Junior and U23 Sprint European Championships for Great Britain after Rebii Simon (who like Euan is coached by Kristina Medovcikova) won the women’s under 23 K1 1000m title yesterday. In today’s K1 500m final Rebii finished sixth.
In the day’s other action, Britain’s Beth Gill (Holme Pierrepont CC) and Afton Fitzhenry (Canoe N. Ireland) missed out on a medal in the U23 C2 200m A final by 0.49 of a second.
It was fantastic to see our athletes representing GB with such determination and persistence and have their efforts rewarded with some amazing performances– British Canoeing Team Leader, Scott Simon
Said Heather Williams, Canoe Sprint Performance Manager: "I’m delighted for Ieuan and all those who have supported him to this point, especially his parents, his coach Kristina Mediovcikova and the SCA who have all worked closely together.
"Ieuan has worked very hard for this, balancing his final school exams in Scotland while training in Nottingham to prepare for the Championships, so it was great to see him on the top of the podium today.
"After her fantastic performance in the 1000m yesterday, it was also very pleasing to see Rebii Simon back that up with another solid performance in the 500m today.
"Like many in the Team, Ieuan and Rebii, will now turn their thoughts to the World Junior & U23 Championships in Romania at the end of July, although many will be in action again at the National Regatta in Nottingham next weekend which incorporates selection for the Senior World and European Championships."
GB results from Sunday 25 June:
K1 200m: Stelian Naftanaila (Nottingham KC) B final 2nd (rank 11th)
K2 200m: Noah Dembele (Leaside CC) / Trevor Thomson (Ealing CC) B final 1st (rank 10th)
K1 500m: Rebi Simon (Elmbridge CC) A Final 6th
K4 500m: Rachel Syme (Kirkcaldy CC) / Emma Ricketts (Anker Valley CC) / Tanisha Clayton (Holme Pierrepont CC) / Lucy Lee-Smith (Norwich CC) A Final 8th
C2 200m: Beth Gill (Holme Pierrepont CC) / Afton Fitzhenry (Canoe N. Ireland) A Final 4th
K1 200m: Ieuan James (Forth CC) A final 1st GOLD
K1 500m: Miki Marciniak (Wey KC) B Final 5th (rank 14th)
K2 500m: Ed Nightingale (Wiltshire Youth CC) / Spencer Armstrong (Devizes CC) B Final 8th (rank 17th)
K1 200m: Renee Myburgh (Royal CC) B Final 7th (rank 16th)
K1 500m: Florence Duffield (Norwich CC) B Final 6th (rank 15th)
C1 500m: Ruth Bennett (Fladbury CC) B Final 7th (rank 16th)