A local athlete reached his goal of making it to the World Junior Kayaking Championships in Foz do Iguassu, Brazil earlier this month.
Notre Dame High School student Darius Ramrattan, 17, began kayaking six years ago, shortly after setting his goal of making it to the international competition.
The road to Brazil led Ramrattan to Ontario over the summer where he placed second overall in team tryouts for the Canadian Junior Kayaking team.
This guaranteed the young kayaker his ticket to Brazil and the chance to complete the goal he had set, which had been inspired by a former teammate Levi Severtson.
“A guy I used to train with (Severtson) made the junior national team four years ago,” said Ramrattan. “So when he got to go to his junior worlds I just thought that would be so great and so I set my sights on Brazil.”
Although his parents were wary to see their son travel to Brazil for three weeks, they were in support of their son’s drive and ambition – leaving him in the care of coaches Mike Holroyd and Paul Manning-Hunter.
Although Ramrattan did not do as well as he had hoped on the international platform, he was overall pleased with the experience in which he competed alongside over 500 athletes from around the world.
“The top female at the competition was an Olympic medalist and the top male is a senior world champion,” he said, of the world championship. “The people who were there were the best of the best for their countries.”
Overall Ramrattan finished 71st in the World Junior Kayaking Championship, explaining it was more his mental game that needed work at the competition than it was his skill.
After leaving Brazil he was happy to get his first world stage out of the way, and feels he is more prepared going into next year’s competition.
“After Brazil I have set my goal for next year as not just making it to the 2016 world championships in Krakow,” he said. “I want to make semi-finals in Poland this time around.”
Looking into the future he hopes he one day makes it to the Olympic stage perhaps in 2020 or 2024.
With kayaking not holding a prominent place in Central Alberta, the young athlete explained the number one question he is asked by those curious about his chosen sport is a simple one – what do you do?
“The answer is simple – we race down rivers,” he added. “Usually they are artificial, like the one in Brazil that was 100 per cent artificial.
“The fastest person through the 23 gates wins with a two second penalty for touching the gate and 50 second penalty if you miss a gate.”
While working towards finishing Grade 11 at Notre Dame, Ramrattan has high hopes for his future adding he enjoys applying the focus and determination he has gained from kayaking to his studies and hopes to further his education and one day study medicine.
For Ramrattan the rest of the summer will be packed with river runs in Kananaskis for training with appearances at both nationals and provincials over the course of the next six months then on to Krakow in 2016.