Brinkley to battle world’s best

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Andrew Brinkley is aiming to make a splash when he represents the nation at the World Freestyle Kayak Championship.

The 24-year-old will be facing the top freestyle athletes from around the world for the first time, as the ultimate white-water week-long event commences in Bryson City, North Carolina, USA, on Monday.

And along with Sudbury Canoe Club’s 16-year-old Jennifer McGaley, from Horringer, near Bury, Brinkley — a former member of the Sudbury-based club, before moving to Nottingham to be based at National Watersport Centre at Holme Pierpiont — is hoping to help Great Britain live up to their strongly-fancied pre-tournament tags.

“I’m really excited about going out to America, it will be my first World Championships and I can’t wait,” he said. “It’s a great feeling to be representing Great Britain and makes you incredibly proud of what you’ve achieved.

“I’ve had some good preparation in the run up to the championships and although we don’t really know what to expect, we’re expected to do well.

“A top-10 finish should be the minimum expected, we have a very strong team and as a collective one of the strongest out there.

“There is an added pressure at being expected to do well, but to me it gives me the incentive to prove a point and show why people are looking at us from the beginning.

“Training has gone really well and we are all feeling really good and confident of giving a strong performance.”

Although still a relatively unknown sport to the masses, Freestyle kayaking has seen its popularity gradually increase since the mid-1980s with improvements to the boats, allowing athletes to maximise manoeuvrability, resulting in more spectacular tricks like cartwheels, full flips and near vertical turns.

The North Carolina venue will once again give the sport a chance to showcase its potential and Brinkley, who secured a creditable 10th place at the European Championships in Austria last year, remains hopeful the growing exposure will one day lead to it being included as an Olympic sport.

“It is not an Olympic sport at the moment, but that could well change,” he added. “It would be amazing to help raise the awareness of the sport and the better we do as a team the bigger the exposure will be. Hopefully a strong performance at the World Championships will continue to give the sport that exposure and grow its popularity.”