Tim Dowden, our current Head Boy and of the Langley Kayaking Academy, came 3rd in the Junior European Marathon Championships in Decize in France on Thursday 25th July with an incredibly focussed, professional and heart-on-the-sleeve performance against the very best in Europe, in a race that demanded high levels of tactical skill, technical application and sheer will power over the 22.5K course with air temperatures breaking 40 degrees. The ferocity of the first 7K was exciting to watch as a breakaway group of seven athletes (including Tim) got away from the pack and piled on the pressure as they headed around two laps before the first portage. (The portage is the point where the athletes jump out and sprint with their boats and where panic can see people fall or boats filled with water, and where Tim had arranged to have a bucket of cold water poured over him each time). Coming towards the portage the group split, two athletes getting away, behind them a paddler from Spain marooned on his own 20 seconds back from the leaders and then Tim’s group of 4 a further 30 seconds back. After the portage the race settled and the time gaps remained relatively stable until the drama built as Tim’s group gained and then caught the junior paddler from Spain with two laps to go. Tim stretched the group out and coming out of the final portage it was just him and one other boat a length in front at the final turn. Tim timed his moment perfectly taking the lead with 100m to go and holding off a concerted challenge to take 3rd place and the bronze medal. “We are all immensely proud of such a special achievement” says Tim Scott, Head coach Langley Kayaking Academy.
“Racing at European level is far more of a mental challenge than any national race I’ve competed in, you can’t ever give up, even when you’ve given everything you have, you have to keep your position and trust there will be a chance to rest later in the race. That is the hardest bit.” says Tim Dowden.

The very next day Tim raced again – this time with Toby Booth (our Y11 pupil) in the junior mens K2 which was another 22,5K race. The pair had an eventful start clashing with another boat after a hundred meters and working hard to stay with the pace for the first two laps. Once they had found their feet the pair gradually got stronger and finished 10th which was another remarkable performance particularly when considering Toby Booth is still only just 16.
Congratulations to both Tim and Toby on remarkable performances.

James How, Toby Booth, Sofia Groves (and Charlotte Le May who joins Langley School in September) and the Langley Kayaking Coach Tim Scott are racing in the Spanish Descent race on the 3rd August (Descenso Internacional del Sella) where around 800 boats will mass start with paddlers running to their kayaks Le Mans style on the signal. It’s one of the most spectacular events to take part or to watch in any sport.

Photos by Nina Jelenc Photography, Tim Scott, Lee Booth and Chris Dowden.