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Norfolk kayak pair look to kick on after podium joy at national champs

Connor Smith and Joe Richards shone at the Under-19 National Schools Championships at the weekend. Picture: Zoe Gusterson

Connor Smith and Joe Richards shone at the Under-19 National Schools Championships at the weekend. Picture: Zoe Gusterson

Archant

A pair of kayaking kings from Norfolk won medals at the under 19 national schools championships last weekend.

Connor Smith and Joe Richards shone at the Under-19 National Schools Championships at the weekend. Picture: Zoe GustersonConnor Smith and Joe Richards shone at the Under-19 National Schools Championships at the weekend. Picture: Zoe Gusterson

Connor Smith and Joe Richards claimed a (kayaking) silver medal in the sprint regatta (200m and 500m) and a bronze medal in the marathon challenge (20km), working as a pair to enable their moments on the podium.

The duo – who both study at Easton and Otley College - took part in these (kayaking) races at an event that was held on the River Thames in Reading (Wokingham Waterside Centre).

Both were inspired to take up the sport after watching the Olympics and seeing Team GB win medals.

Connor, 16, from Attleborough, said, “I watched rowing live at London 2012 and took part in a ‘get involved’ event. Two months after trying the sport for the first time I won a national event.”

Joe Smith started in 2016 after watching the Rio Olympics and has made great progress.

The 17-year-old, from Forncett St Peter, said, “When you get off the water after a session and see the sun rise – nothing compares to it.

“I’d love to end up as a world champion one day. A former Easton and Otley College student – Jack Spall – is hoping to go to 2020 and represent Team GB in the field of Taekwondo so that inspires us.”

The college has backed the two students to dare to dream by buying them training kit. Connor added: “The college have been amazing.”

Sports lecturer (Curriculum and Quality manager for Sport and Uniformed Public Services), Zoe Gusterson, travelled to Reading to support the students.

She said: “We have so much talent at the college in so many different sports. I’m so proud of Connor and Joe. If they stay committed they will continue to succeed.

“Langley School were also involved and we would like to send our congratulations to the school and their competitors who also picked up medals at this event.”

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