This year has already proven to be medal-laden for Charlie Smith but 2017 could be about to get even better for the Leighton Buzzard canoeist after he was shortlisted for SportsAid’s prestigious One-to-Watch Award.
Having won silver in the K1 Men’s Juniors at the Canoe Marathon European Championships over the summer, Smith took his success to World Championship-level in September, winning the same colour in the same event.
A seventh-place finish over 1000m at the ICF Canoe Sprint Junior and Under-23s World Championships capped off a remarkable year for the 18-year-old, but it could still continue yet.
“To be nominated was a massive surprise, I had no idea that it was coming,” said Smith.
“Looking at the previous winners like Tom Daley, it’s a massive honour to be even considered in the same bracket as athletes like him.
“There are a lot of other deserving athletes nominated too, which is amazing, and it’s great to even make the top ten.
“I’ve been supported by SportsAid for the last three years now and they have been a massive help.
“Canoeing is an expensive sport and so their financial help has been invaluable.
“But it has also been great psychologically, knowing that someone has your back and is there supporting you.
“Their support motivates me to achieve more success without a doubt. It makes training that little bit easier and keeps you going to reach the next level.”
There’s little doubting that Smith – a former pupil at Aylesbury Grammar School – will indeed reach that next level, his sights set on making his Olympic debut in the coming years.
And having watched from the stands when the Games came to London five years ago, Smith can’t wait for the day he’s the one inspiring the next generation of stars.
“This year has been my best yet, without a doubt,” Smith said.