Belmont teenager Jack Newland has made history by becoming Australia’s first ever junior world championship medallist after winning bronze on Friday.
The 18-year-old placed third in the kayak surface final at the 2019 ICF canoe freestyle world championships in Spain.
“It’s unbelievable, I’m so stoked! This is crazy!” the thrilled teenager said.
“It’s been stressful, with a lot of butterflies, but I’ve been excited for most of the day. I didn’t know I could get on the podium.”
Unlike most of his opponents, who trained on some of the best whitewater in the world, Newland had to make do with a swimming pool.
“It takes a long time in a swimming pool. It’s good, it’s fantastic training, but you’ve got to put in the hard work,” he said.
But it didn’t phase him on Friday. In fact, he said training in a pool four times a week might have given him an advantage over other athletes.
“Swimming pool training gives you a lot of boat control and strength, but it doesn’t give you the feel for features and waves such as this one.
“You really are going in unknown. It took me four days when I got here to get use to the feature, because it’s completely different to what I’ve paddled before and, obviously, completely different to a swimming pool.”
Newland went to Sort, Spain, this month hoping to finish in the top ten after finishing top 15 in Argentina in 2017.
But he created history on Friday morning by becoming the first Australian to make a junior freestyle world championship final.
He then scored 660 points on his first ride in the final to take the bronze.
In two years Newland plans to compete against the seniors for the first time.
“I’ll need a lot more swimming pool practice, and hopefully a lot more whitewater practice,” he said.
“I finish school pretty soon, so I’m pretty excited for the future, that’s for sure.”