Attleborough’s Albert Hicks is a kayak World Cup winner
One World Cup gold medal and a Great Britain berth at the European Championships in France next weekend prove exactly how good life is for Attleborough's Albert Hicks.
The 17-year-old Norwich City College Norwich pupil continued his impressive paddle form with gold in the junior men's K1 kayak race at the World Cup meeting Rome last week.
'I was tired but I just tried to hang on in there to the end,' said Hicks. 'Luckily none of the others were able to catch me, as I couldn't have done any more.'
With a date at the European Championships on Friday week, the Norwich Canoe Club star is making a name for himself – not bad timing for a paddle star harbouring Olympic ambitions.
City College course leader Adam Williams added: 'This is a terrific achievement by Albert.
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'Although he's quite a quiet lad, all of his fellow students on the Outdoor Adventure course look up to him and he is a great role model.
'Albert is a fantastic asset for us to have as a qualified instructor who is also competing at the highest level in the sport.'
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Hicks paddled his first kayak aged five – taking rests at the back as his dad carried things through – before taking up racing less that a year later.
Now, resting is now a luxury Hicks does without. The youngster trains three times a day – even the winter will see Hicks out at least seven times a week.
And all that hard work paid of last weekend in Rome.
Hicks raced 21.5km, split into five laps on a wide river including four 500m portages – or running with the boat through locks – up tricky steep wooden steps.
At 17, Hicks was a year younger that most of his competition – but it was nothing that fazed the Attleborough racer.
'I knew I had trained well and was prepared, but I only expected to just make the first group,' said Hicks. 'During the race I stayed in the first group and I tried not to do much work for the first three laps.'
After that, Hicks' tactics did just the trick as the Norfolk paddler excelled.
'My confidence grew as the race went on,' added Hicks. 'On the fifth lap I did a long, sustained 1,000m burn into the portage.
'I got out on the final portage in first place. The boys who had managed to stay with me couldn't run up the steps, they were so tired. I managed a jog and got away from the group.'
Hicks maintained his slight lead to paddle the last 1,500m on his own and cross the line unopposed – one hour 38 minutes 12 seconds; 20 seconds ahead of second.
Hicks also thanked Pilch, Tangerine Creative and Breckland Council for the support that has made his last year of training and racing possible.