Bethany Gill, NHSG alumna, tells us more about how she has successfully pursued her passion for Sprint Canoeing:
'I was proud to be Sports Captain in the last year of Central High, before the merger to form Newcastle High School for Girls. I finished my A Levels in 2014. At school I tried most sports but hockey was my passion - playing for Whitley Bay in the national league and for Scotland, at both U16 and U18 levels.
I applied for and won a place on the Girls4Gold Talent Identification programme in 2014, and deferred my university place. The program took elite athletes from other sports and introduced us to Sprint Canoeing; with the aim of qualifying for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. In the past women's Sprint Canoeing has not been included in the Olympics. However, in June this year, the female canoe discipline was officially confirmed as an Olympic event and will debut in 2020.
I moved to Nottingham to train full time with British Canoeing and I am currently supported by UKSport Lottery funding. I have now been full time for two and a half years and have been lucky enough to train and compete around the world. I compete in a C2; this means that there are two people in the canoe. After a successful debut season finishing 5th and 8th at the U23 European and World Championships last year, I was excited to see where this season would take us.
I started the season with selection for the Senior World Cup Series; the first in Portugal and the second in Hungary. These were my first races with the Senior Team. The highlight was winning C2 200m Gold in my first World Cup. It was incredible to stand on the top of the podium and hear the national anthem play, while our flag rose beside us. We are now looking to build into the U23 European Championships in Belgrade and then World Championships next month in Romania, where we hope to make Finals.
It’s exciting to be a part of this expansion in women's participation in sport, and in particular Canoeing. I love travelling with the team and racing in new cities. Being on the start line with the best in the world is the most fantastic feeling. Every race is a challenge. I have so much more to learn and every race, every training session is a new experience to take something from.'