Ieuan James was crowned canoe sprint World Junior Champion in Pitesti, Romania today, Great Britain’s first canoe sprint world junior title for 22 years. This builds on his European Junior title won in Belgrade last month.
The 18 year old from Edinburgh claimed gold in the K1 200m in a time of 36.192 seconds, 0.104 head of Russian Ilia Zotov and Slovakia’s Csaba Zalka.
Speaking after the medal ceremony Ieuan James said: “It feels amazing! I have made so many sacrifices this year to make it happen and it’s paid off for me today.
“I knew I had the potential to do well here, but all the competitors had respect for each other and probably any one of six of us could have won today. I just knew if I could deliver close to my best I would do it.
“I have never been more nervous on a start line, but I got out cleanly and just held onto it. I was feeling quite tired and in a lot of pain coming up to the line but I just held on all the way to the finish. During the race I had no idea where I was placed but after crossing the line I took a look to the left and the right and then knew I had won.”
Sixth in the same event last year, 2017 is proving to be a significant breakthrough season for the youngster. Now a member of the sport’s UK Podium Potential programme, Ieuan moved to Nottingham in April and is hoping to study mathematics at Nottingham University from September, subject to imminent exam results.
He will also take time to reflect on his performances this season and with ambitions of Olympic success, consider how he can follow in the footsteps of senior teammate and Olympic champion, Liam Heath.
He added: “I have taken a lot of advice from our British senior athletes who have such an incredible track record in 200m racing and I have been working really hard to be as quick as I could be.
“With all the ground work Liam (Heath), Johnny (Schofield) and Alex Nikonorov have done developing the 200m programme, my coach Christina has helped me implement it for the level I was at. Consistency is key, which is what I have been working on.
“It is incredible that people like Liam and Jonny at the very top of the sport are looking out for what is happening in junior races. They have been a massive help to me and knowing they are watching me from home really spurred me on to show them what I could do.
“I am going to take a little timeout to reflect. This year couldn’t have gone any better for me, so I am now super motivated to keep on going and make an impact next year at under 23. I will be discussing future plans with my coaches as I haven’t been able to look that far ahead until now. Like everyone my ultimate ambition is to be Olympic champion and I am prepared to put the work in to achieve that.”
There was also an outstanding performance from Rebeka Simon in the U23 K1 500m to take bronze in a world class race. The race was won by New Zealand’s Aimee Fisher in a time of 1: 48.94, with Australian Alyssa Bull in second and Rebii third.
Thrilled to be back on the podium Rebii said: “I am really, really happy, particularly after the race I had yesterday in K1 1000m. I was gutted about that, so it feels even nicer to stand on the podium today having delivered a performance that was worth a bronze medal and in a PB.
“Last night I was upset initially and then put it behind me. I worked hard with my Psychologist who helped me loads. We put a plan together to learn from the race, but put it aside for now and focus on what I needed to do today.
“I decided that I was going to risk it and go out a little bit earlier on the start as I knew I needed to catch a really good one if I was going to be in the race. There were four or five world class athletes in there and I knew if I could keep up with the New Zealand girl in the lane next I would be fine. Even if I died at the end I wanted to be sure that I had given it everything.
“Once it sinks in I know it will give me confidence ahead of senior Worlds. Many of these girls will be senior finalists and I was only a couple of seconds off one girl who potentially could post the winning time.”
Pleased with the overall performance of the team, Canoe Sprint Performance Manager, Heather Williams said: “It has been an excellent performance across the board from the team. The highlight performance today comming away with a World Junior title, the first for over 20 years emulating what Tim Brabants and Paul Darby-Dowman did in 1995 is absolute testament to the talent, hard work and commitment of Ieuan, the Scottish Canoe Association and all his friends and family who have supported him.
“I am also delighted for Rebii, who was disappointed after her K1 1000m yesterday and to bounce back in a world class field and take away bronze in a personal best time is a clear sign of a world class athlete.
“9 A Finals and 6 B Finals across the weekend shows we are continuing to build the strength and depth of the programme with athletes from a range of clubs and many thanks to everyone for supporting our young athletes to realise their potential.”
RESULTS SUMMARY DAY 4 – SUNDAY 30 July 2017
K1 500m Rebeka Simon (Elmbridge) – A Final 3rd
K1 500m Tom Lusty (Solihull) – A Final 7th
K1 200m Stelian Naftanaila (Nottingham) – B Final 3rd & 12th overall
K4 500m Sam Glover (Holme Pierrepont) Noah Dembele (Leaside) Trevor Thomson (Ealing), Stelian Naftanaila (Nottingham) - B Final 4th & 13thoverall
C1 200m Katie Reid (Holme Pierrepont) – A Final 7th
C2 200m Beth Gill (Holme Pierrepont) & Afton Fitzhenry (Canoe N. Ireland) – A Final 7th
C2 500m Beth Gill (Holme Pierrepont) & Afton Fitzhenry (Canoe N. Ireland) – A Final 8th
K1 200m Ieuan James (Forth) – A Final 1st
K1 500m Miki Marciniak (Wey) – B Final 2nd & 11th overall
K2 500m Rachael Kneen (Forth) & Renee Myburgh (Royal) – A Final 9th
For full results visit https://www.canoeicf.com/canoe-sprint-world-championships/pitesti-2017