Sixteen-year-old Solomon Maragh has earned a spot in the Junior World Canoe Slalom Championships, which take place in Slovenia this week.
The former UTC pupil, who works for the OSL Group based in Attercliffe, was a regular early morning visitor to Millhouses Park Boating Lake during the first lockdown last year, where he would squeeze in sprint training sessions before the water was used for model boats and pedalos.
Canoe slalom is fast-paced, exciting and demands skill, stamina and courage.
The aim is to run a rapid river course marked by ‘gates’ – two poles suspended over the water - fast and without touching them.
“It’s phenomenal,” said Solomon’s dad Dean of his achievement.
"He has done this on his own, it isn’t something I’ve been able to show him at this level. He’s racing against people who were world champions a few years ago who are still juniors. People at this event go on to win at the Olympics.”
The youngster from Millhouses, who trains at Manvers Waterfront Boat Club in Wath-Upon-Dearne, qualifies to represent Jamaica through his grandmother who was born there.
He was just nine months old when he first entered a canoe with his parents Dean and Julie on the Sheffield canal. They have both travelled to Slovenia to support him.
Solomon added: “Slalom is a very lively sport to watch, I have arrived as ready as I can be to fit in with work and college.
"Training at the competition site and in the heat will prepare me even more, I know I will do my best.”
Solomon’s first race will take place on Thursday at around 9am UK time. You can watch it at https://www.canoeicf.com/.