Hobart kayaker Daniel Watkins surprised even himself to reach the semifinal on his Word Cup debut.
Now the 18 year old Derwent paddler is looking to push on and improve at the final two ICF World Cups.
Watkins was happy with her 35th placing in Tacen despite incurring a 50 second penalty for a missed gate in his semifinal run. Earlier he surprised many onlookers to produce the 10th fastest heat time.
“Overall I was really happy with my results. I surprised myself qualifying in tenth,” Watkins said.
“After the qualifications (heat) I wanted to produce another clean run and just see where it would place me. But even with a 50 I am happy to have made the semifinal and enjoyed my qualifications.”
Like most World Cup debutants Watkins admitted to being very nervous leading into the competition.
“I was very nervous all morning about my first World Cup so when I got on the water I was really trying hard to focus,” Watkins said.
“Since it was my first World Cup I had no idea where I could place so I was really thinking about just producing the best run I could all the way to the finish.”
Having grown up learning his craft on the natural rivers in Tasmania, Watkins has always wanted to race in Tacen.
“It is a course I've always loved the look of from watching past world cups on the internet. The big drop at the top of the course is really fun and I love paddling on big white water,” Watkins said.
“The middle of the course is quite inconsistent with the islands disrupting the flow of the water and this is quite a lot like my local training course 'Broken Bridge' in Tasmania.”
Watkins is currently on a gap year following the completion of year 12 in 2013. The dual AYOF gold medallist wanted to use this year to see if he had what it takes to make the giant step up from a junior to a potential senior athlete.
It is fair to say that the decision has paid off.
Despite an impressive debut, the TIS paddler has his feet firmly planted to the ground and determined to improve at the final two ICF World Cups in Spain and Germany.
“I want to produce clean paddling and make the semifinal again. If so I want to race a better semifinal and not get a 50 to see if I can improve my 35th placing in Tacen,” Watkins said.
Watkins is currently travelling through Eastern Europe, mainly doing cross training and getting on any river he passes on his journey.
He will participate in a training camp at Skopje, Macedonia which is host of the European Junior and U23 Championships before making his was to Spain for World Cup 4.
The fourth ICF World Cup will be held in La Seu d’Urgell, Spain from 1 to 3 August.