BEN Aldred was crowned European Squirt Kayak Champion in Austria last weekend, on the same day that fellow city paddler Paul King took bronze.
The 21-year-old from Kents Hill was representing Great Britain at the event and fought off the continent’s finest competitors to win gold in the town of Lienz.
Ben made use of the benefits of his classic squirt kayak and paddled to victory with a big mystery move that wowed the judges. Showing some fine screwing around the tough course, the new European Champion finished comfortably ahead of his rivals, some paddling standard freestyle boats.
In fact it was an fantastic day all round for the Aldred family, with Kim – Ben’s 16-year-old sister – scoring a fourth place finish in the K1 Junior Ladies’ category. And dad Andy said the family were over the moon with their success.
“My wife, daughter Charlee and I just started jumping up and down when Ben won,” he said. “As each paddler came and went, he was still in the gold medal position, so it was great for him to win the European title.
“We went out there with him as the number one representative of Team GB so we felt there was a chance of getting a medal. But we’re just so proud that it was a gold and that he is the European Champion.”
And Walton High student Kim’s fourth place achievement was an added bonus for the family, especially considering the fact that she barely had time to think between finishing her exams and hitting the road for Austria.
Andy said: “We left for Germany the day she finished her last GCSE exam. I think she was a little disappointed to have finished fourth because she was in the medal positions for such a long time and lost out by a very narrow margin.
“But she’s the fourth best in Europe, she’s still the British Youth Champion, and leading the way in the domestic championships.”
With the family performing brilliantly both on the domestic and international stage, the future looks very bright, with eight-year-old Charlee looking to follow in her sister’s footsteps.
“She has been on the water since she was three!” said Andy. “One of the teachers suggested getting out on the water at Caldecote Lake after I had a motorcycle accident.
“The kids came along with me and saw another paddler performing tricks in the water as he prepared to go off to the world championships, and they thought ‘I fancy doing that!’
“So we’ve been doing it ever since. The whole family are involved now.”
Fellow Milton Keynes competitor Paul King also paddled his way to the podium, landing the bronze medal in the OC1 event.