A north Northumberland lad has recently returned from the World Canoe Polo Championships where he represented Great Britain U21s.
Ross Martin, 20, of Percy Street, Amble, was part of the British team which took a silver medal following defeat to the French in the final at the event in Poland.
But the former Coquet High School pupil was the hero in the 3-2 win over the Germans in the semi-finals, scoring the two crucial goals to guarantee the GB team a medal.
Ross said: “We played some hard and well-fought games, with a hard semi-final against Germany and sadly getting beat in the final by France.”
Canoe polo combines paddling and ball-handling skills with an exciting contact team game, where tactics and positional play are as important as the speed and fitness of the individual athletes.
Two teams, each with five players on the pitch at any one time and up to two substitutes, compete to score goals in their opponents’ net, which is suspended two metres above the water. The ball can be thrown by hand or flicked with the paddle.
Both the boats and paddles are designed specifically for polo, with the canoes being shorter than typical kayaks while the paddles are very lightweight and designed with both pulling power and ball control in mind.
Ross, who represents the Tees Tigers at club level in Middlesburgh, first got into canoe polo four years ago.
He joined a club in Morpeth and, after a season there, went to the GB trials.
His first attempt at the trails saw him turned away, so he went away and trained even harder. When he next tried out for the team he was given the nod.
Ross added: “I love the contact and the adrenaline you get from it. You have to be fast and skilled in many areas.
“You have to be able to think about more than one thing at a time, thinking about the ball, positioning and paddling.”
Ross will soon be competing in the winter season for his Middlesbrough team.
However, awaiting the signing of a contract, he is hoping that in the new year he will be moving to France and playing for a French league team and also in Italy.