Most 18-year-olds worry about being embarrassed, but few get the chance to be worried on an international stage while representing your country.
But that was Ben Pamplin’s last few weeks, as the promising young freestyle kayaker got his first taste of a senior event at the 2017 ICF Canoe Freestyle World Championships in San Juan, Argentina.
The Hawstead resident competed for Team GB in the Senior C1 class, the only junior in the competition, finishing in 13th place.
And he also helped Team GB finish top of the medal table for the first time as they beat favourites USA into second.
Pamplin, a County Upper Year 13 student, said: “I was quite worried about embarrassing myself, it was the first time I had competed at this level — abroad and in a senior event.
“So I wasn’t sure how I would do but I was quite pleased. I had aimed to average about 150 and I scored 200 so I did well.
“It was so competitive too, we were having to train at midnight to get more than 30 seconds on the feature, otherwise the queue was too long.
“But it was a great feeling to be a part of the team, especially when we took the top spot.
“That was really exciting — I want more of this now.”
Pamplin, who discovered the sport on a trip to France with his middle school, has developed into one of the UK’s most promising freestyle paddlers
Freestyle kayaking is a discipline of whitewater kayaking where the paddler performs various technical moves in one place on a wave feature, a bit like gymnastics in a canoe.
But there aren’t may places to practise in the country, so he travels most weeks to Lee Valley Paddlesports Club for a session on the Legacy and Olympic courses or to the National Water Sports Centre at Holme Pierrepont, Nottingham.
And, as he weighs up his future and university choices, these locations are central to his decision.
He said: “First I’m targeting a place in the GB team for next year’s European Championships in Bratislava.
“But then I would love to go to the World Champs in Spain in 2019 and then they’re in Nottingham in 2021.
“That’s the real goal, a home games and, by then, hopefully I’ll be competing to win.”