BEN CLAYTON-HARRIS: “I JUST WANT TO GO FAST IN A STRAIGHT LINE!”

Already making waves on the national canoeing scene, Brookmans Park’s Ben Clayton-Harris hopes he can force a change in the sport’s way of thinking by soaring to sprinting success. The 17-year-old first picked up a paddle following a visit from British Canoeing at his school, and having initially been turned away after a slalom test day at the Lee Valley White Water Centre for being too big, decided to try his hand at sprinting.
13 August, 2020

Already making waves on the national canoeing scene, Brookmans Park’s Ben Clayton-Harris hopes he can force a change in the sport’s way of thinking by soaring to sprinting success.

The 17-year-old first picked up a paddle following a visit from British Canoeing at his school, and having initially been turned away after a slalom test day at the Lee Valley White Water Centre for being too big, decided to try his hand at sprinting.

Ben went on to successfully break into the Great Britain set-up at the second time of asking, but questions about his suitability to his chosen discipline continued.

With dreams of emulating the likes of Olympic champions Ed McKeever and Liam Heath, the Chancellor’s School student is determined to prove he can be similarly successful over the shorter format.

“I like racing over 200m,” said Ben - who is currently being supported by the Thompson Trust through SportsAid. “Traditionally 200m paddlers are smaller, and 1,000m paddlers are taller, but I want to change that and be a tall 200m paddler.

“I just want to go fast in a straight line - that’s all I want to do! I love the thrill of paddling with so much power in the water and propelling myself forward and being the best that I can be.

“People like Liam are so inspirational to me - he’s the same kind of paddler as me and I’m so intrigued to know how he does his stuff.”

While Ben insists he is focused on working his way up to the senior GB squad, he admits he has had to overcome tougher times when he wasn’t sure if he’d ever reach his potential.

But now - despite his ever-increasing school workload – he believes he has discovered a perfect balance to ensure he is successful in each of his walks of life.

He said: “I had a very frustrating 2018 - everything seemed to be going wrong with training and results out on the water.

“But over winter this year I became hugely motivated and passionate. I’m making sure I’m working as hard as I can. I’m a bit older now, and I think I have a clearer view on things.

“I’m studying for my A-Levels alongside kayaking which can be stressful, but I make the most of my time by doing work in free periods and after training in the evening.

“I have a lot of support - particularly from my mum - and everything seems to be working well so I’m excited to see how far I can go.”

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