A team representing the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea regained the kayak slalom title at the Thames Water London Youth Games Regatta on Saturday 8 June. The borough had to settle for bronze last year, after winning gold in 2011, but they were back to winning ways at the London Regatta Centre.
Brothers Alexander,15, and Oliver Khlaf ,13, took senior male and junior male gold respectively. Sister Sophie, 16, was fourth in the senior female class, the quarter was completed by Lilla Shehata, 11, who was a solid seventh in the junior female class.
Each competitor had two runs over the course with the best three of the four in the team to count. Kensington and Chelsea’s quickest were the three Khlafs and they just edged out Bexley into silver by two seconds. Last year’s winner Tower Hamlets had to settle for bronze.
In the kayak sprint competition, there was more success for the borough as they shared overall team bronze with Ealing, Barking & Dagenham took silver with Richmond winning the overall title. There was also individual gold in the rocket class through Alexander and Oliver Khlaf, Lilla Shehata and 12-year-old Madeleine Sigey.
There were further medals for Alexander Khlaf who won silver in the male junior cirrus class, Lilla Shehetta who took bronze in the cirrus junior female finals and Sophie Klaf who won bronze in the senior female cirrus class.
Kensington and Chelsea’s Team Coach Martyn Steele was pleased with the team’s performance. He said, ‘We’re all very proud because they all worked so hard throughout the year. They come to training even when there’s ice on the canal and they all love to paddle. So for them to actually get a reward today is great and reflects the hard work they put in all year.’
‘Some of the boys train up to five times a week, and put in a lot of work – they deserve everything they get for the training they do.’
Oliver Khlaf said that ‘It shows that people started in London Youth Games and can then go on to achieve Olympic medals, so it’s really inspiring. I definitely hope to go to bigger events and hopefully achieve an Olympic medal one day.’
Councillor Elizabeth Campbell, Cabinet Member for Family and Children’s Services said, ‘Congratulations to all our kayakers for their fantastic efforts at the London Youth Games. It takes real dedication and hard work to achieve such impressive performances. I would like to thank all the coaches that work with young people and our youth sports development team for their efforts and would encourage any young people who want to give kayaking a try to contact the Council and give it a go.’
Young people interested in trying kayaking should contact the Council’s Canalside Activity Centre on 020 8968 4500 or the Cremorne Riverside Centre on 020 7349 9591 for more information.