Vawn Humphrey-Wilson is one of PGL's young Sponsored Athletes and competes in kayaking. Vawn reviews his year so far...
"I have had a very tough season from the first race to my last. It was exactly what I thought it was going to be when I hit Division 1 - seriously hard and mentally draining! Over the winter there was almost constant training and lots of mental preparation.
My first race was on home turf at Shepperton, although this didn't help me much as I had only trained there once in the weeks before the race and I think because of this, I didn't have the best result on either day.
My next outing was in Wales where I thought I was going to do better because it was flat-water. On the Saturday I came 5th from last and on the Sunday 3rd from last. Although not necessarily what I was hoping for, these results encouraged me not to give up but to train harder, because some days are good and some are bad but you have to persevere.
The next race was at Holme Pierrepont in Nottingham and I really hoped that I would race well and finish in a decent position (to me that means halfway at least!). When I got to the course I knew that I hadn't paddled there for a while and that it could be unpredictable so I prepared myself mentally by listening to Mozart, relaxing my nerves and warming up on the flat water to prevent any injuries.
I did my first run and it wasn't very good. At this point I knew I needed to do better on my second to stand a chance of moving up places, so I had a break, went through the same routine for my second run and the same thing happened again! I was very frustrated and knew I could have done better."
"My GCSEs were coming up and I had to find a way to balance both revision and training. I made a study timetable that allowed for training as well as revision but bearing in mind my exams were only a few weeks away, I spent more time revising and found other ways to train such as going to the gym and training on flat to relieve stress. My last exams were taken in June and as soon as I finished my last one, I was back in the routine of training regularly again. We had 10 weeks of summer which felt a bit weird because it's the longest I've ever had!
On 3rd September there was another Division 1 race back at Holme Pierrepont. I came 70th out of 85 competitors and from this result, I could see progress.
My final few weeks of the season were approaching and I was worried that I didn't have enough points to stay in my division. It was only my first season in Division 1 and I didn't want it to end so quickly.
The last 2 races were back in Wales at a place called Llandysul. I loved racing there despite it being extremely cold, because the water is flat with a bit of a flow and I like that type of water because I train on flat most of the time at my youth club, Laburnum.
But to put it simply .... a bad weekend of racing - AGAIN!
I started to question myself; "What's going on?", "Is it my training?", "Is it my racing mentality?", "Was I fully prepared for my run?". All these questions I asked myself as I was leaving Wales. At this point I was convinced I was going to be demoted.
On the way home I thought about what I was going to do for the last race of the season. The final decider. I thought about a quote which helped motivate me to keep going: "it doesn't matter if you win as long as you give everything in your heart."
I thought maybe I could stay in Division 1 as long as I put 100 percent into this last race and enjoy every second of it because at the end of the day, I could only control my performance and no one else's.
During the last race, all I was thinking about was having fun and enjoying my run which made me feel more relaxed. Over the weekend of the 28th October, I managed to pull out the best run I have had all season and come halfway in my division - 39th out of 72, which is now a personal best for me!
This season has definitely been one to remember. I had to overcome a lot of obstacles to get to where I am now and I am grateful for the support from my coach, sponsors and my parents, for giving me that extra motivation and guidance.
What I've learned this season is to never give up, even when things get hard; to be more prepared in the run-up to races and at the races themselves; and to give everything a go and have fun!
My hope for next season is to have more self-belief, aim for the top 50, and find the consistency which I lacked this season."
By Vawn Humphrey-Wilson.
We wish Vawn all the very best for 2018 and his future kayaking achievements!