Motherwell sprint canoeist Deborah Kerr won her first ever world championships medals after making onto the podium for two bronzes at the World U23 and U18 Championships in Montemor-O-Velho, Portugal at the weekend.
The 17-year-old, who competes for Strathclyde Kayak Racing, won bronze in both the individual women’s K1 200m and K1 500m competitions.
Deborah said: “I’m over the moon.
“Before coming here I had put a lot of pressure on myself and I wasn’t expecting to medal in both distances.
“But now I’ve proven to myself that I can which has given me another extra boost.”
Deborah overcame an anxious wait at the start of the K1 200 final but finished strongly. Then she managed her nerves well in the two hours wait before the K1 500 final.
“The 200 was very tight and I had a pretty bad start because they held us in the buckets for quite a while,” she said.
“The nerves were building but my last 80m were good which allowed me to drive it home.
“After the euphoria of winning the bronze in the 200 I told myself to not get carried away, so I came back to the tent and calmed myself down.
“But I was motivated because I knew that my ending was strong and my middle part of my 500 is good as well, so I knew that I could combine the two together which gave me even more confidence.
“I’ve never come across any of these paddlers before because this is my first year in individual racing. But, as this my last junior competition, I have an idea of what I’ll be up against when I move up to under 23s next season.”
Deborah was one of three Scottish athletes competing for British Canoeing at the competition. It says much for the Scottish Canoeing Association’s Performance Programme that, of the five GB boats making the A finals, four of them contained Scottish athletes.
Deborah’s fine performance in Portugal came one year on from her competing as the lone Scot at the junior worlds in the K2 crew boat, finishing ninth.
“As an athlete I’ve improved massively since a year ago,” added Kerr. “I worked really hard over the winter and my strength, fitness and technique have all just come together.
“The coaching and the positive environment at the Scottish Performance squad makes a huge difference.
“Every single person in the squad loves the sport and we are working towards the same goal, which is to eventually become Olympic Champions or Olympic medallists.
“We are all really professional and we have a great team behind us.”