Local kayak racer Alex Brent will compete for Canada this summer after he was the surprise of the national team trials in Dartmouth over the weekend.
Brent is still in Nova Scotia, but his father Tom said the 17-year-old would have been happy with a top-10 finish in the 1,000-metre race.
In a field that included racers a year older, he overturned the national rankings, surprised even himself, and finished third.
All at once he is world class.
CanoeKayak Canada chose Brent to compete in the World Junior Championships in Hungary next month.
Then, he will also compete in the 2014 Youth Olympic Games taking place in Nanjing, China from Aug. 15-28.
Considering that at last year’s Canadian Junior Team Trials he made the B final, it was an amazing improvement. His goal was to make the national team next year, as an 18-year-old.
Tom said his son started in the sport at the age of seven, and was a “roly poly” kid.
“But he’s pretty lean and mean now,” he said.
His training partner and mentor Brian Malfesi, is another local flat water sprinter, and junior 1,000m champion.
Malfesi has moved up to the under-23 age class, and faces tougher competition this year.
He is part of a pool of sprint athletes to participate in Junior and Under 23 training camps following a full weekend of National Team Trials on Lake Banook in Dartmouth.
Brent lives in the Mission area, but both he and Malfesi are members of the Ridge Canoe and Kayak Club that trains on Whonnock Lake. It is the largest sprint canoe club in the province.
The training camps taking place this week in Nova Scotia will play a major role in determining crews and finalizing selections to the Under 23 team to represent Canada in Szeged, Hungary from July 17 to 20. Selections for a certain few U23 events will go right down to a third set of Trials in Montreal at the end of June.
“Over the weekend we saw some tremendous performances from our top up and coming athletes,” said Scott Logan, CanoeKayak Canada’s high performance director.
“These athletes are learning to compete under pressure and through training camps and lots of work with our coaches we’re preparing them to be successful at the international level.
“This is all part of our high performance plan to develop the best paddlers in the world. I want to congratulate everyone who raced their hardest and made strides this weekend.”