Silver for Smith books his spot to the World Championships

Charlie Smith
Charlie Smith

Charlie Smith was agonisingly pipped into second place at the line to come away with a silver medal from the ECA Canoe Marathon European Championship.

The Leighton Buzzard teenager was competing for the GB Junior Kayak squad in Portugal, racing in the U18 K1 race over 22.6km.

His excellent performance has earned him a spot in GB’s World Championship squad set for South Africa later this year.

Competitors from 23 different countries attended the Championships held at Ponte de Lima - one of the oldest villages in Portugal, and well practised at holding international events.

The race saw one of the biggest entries of the competition with 21 Junior men lining up on the pontoon to take on the six-lap route.

Charlie got off to a good start finding a spot at the front of the group as the boats merged off the start line.

Within 500m was the first turn where paddlers quickly funnelled into a continuous stream around the buoys grouping again shortly after.

By the time Charlie reached the second bridge he found himself leading a group of nine which broke down to seven by the second lap and first portage.

All paddlers took the beach portage well, Charlie’s long stride allowed him to make the most of the run and he was one of the first to be back on water.

He remained within the front four at every turn and portage throughout the race. By the fifth lap the pack had managed to drop two paddlers as the race intensified.

Charlie led out of the last portage and made a break for the turn, coming out from under the arch it was down to three boats, Ireland, Hungry and GB.

The three manoeuvred themselves into position for a final push to the finish line, with 100m to go it became a sprint finish between Charlie and the Hungarian paddler who just pipped Charlie on the line.

This outstanding performance won Charlie a silver medal and it has now been confirmed he has a place on the squad for the World Championships in South Africa in September.