LOWER Wharfe Canoe Club member Ryan Westley is in line for a year to remember after impressing Olympic champion Etienne Stott.
Stott wrote his name into the history books at London 2012 as he and Tim Baillie became the first Britons to win Olympic C2 gold.
However, Stott has been sidelined since July after dislocating his shoulder while Baillie has retired – meaning he missed the recent British selection trials.
One man who was very much in action however was Westley, with the 20-year-old winning all three C1 races.
This means Westley, who was a member of the Tadcaster canoe club when his father was stationed at RAF Dishforth, will now represent Britain at World and European Championship level as well as at World Cups and Stott is backing him to do the business against his global rivals.
“Ryan Westley was absolutely fantastic all weekend at the trials and really impressed me,” said Stott, who was commentating instead of competing.
“Ryan stood out. Last season you could see it a bit but he really delivered over the whole weekend.
“Everyone thought it was going to be a tight selection race but Ryan didn’t miss a beat and really looked good.
“He has clearly got a bright future and, if he maintains his work ethic, then I don’t see any reason why he can’t make it to the top.”
Stott, speaking at a Get Set to Make a Change outing at Holme Pierrepont, is set for some more time on the sidelines but hopes to make his return to the water later this year.
And he admits that young bucks such as Westley are keeping him on his toes.
“Overall the whole squad is very, very strong in all the different categories,” Stott added. “The British team has one or two crews or individuals that can really medal at the highest level.
“It is very positive for GB Canoeing and I am really looking forward to seeing what 2014 brings from the likes of Ryan.
“It just means that I will have to be at my best when I eventually make my return.”
* Through GSTMC, the British Olympic Foundation, in conjunction with the British Paralympic Association is using the spirit of the London Games to re-inspire young people across the UK. The project is being supported by a £2.5 million grant from the Big Lottery Fund’s Keeping the Spirit of 2012 Alive campaign. http://www.makeachange.org.uk/