Brigg area water-ski expert Harry Spavin to compete in junior world championships in Australia
IF THERE'S one thing talented teenager Harry Spavin has become accustomed to since taking up water skiing barely 18 months after he could walk, it's jumping in at the deep end.
So the prospect of sharing the water with the world's best talent in his field next month is one he will relish, rather than fear.
Two years after entering his first tournament, the 15-year-old, from Sturton, on the outskirts of Scawby, is preparing to head to Australia to compete in the Junior World Water Ski Championships.
Spavin is one of five British skiers taking part in the Championships on the outskirts of the small town of Mulwala, New South Wales, between February 20-24.
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He will compete against a much older field in the under-17 age group. While that may lessen his chances of picking up a medal, it has not dampened his spirits.
"It's going to be great," said Harry, a member of Lound Waterski Club, near Retford.
"Just going to Australia is going to be really good.
"I didn't think I'd get picked. I've only been competing for two years and to be picked for the worlds in those circumstances is great.
"It goes to show all the training I've put in has worked.
"It's quite tough because a lot of the people I've got to compete against are 16 or 17 and they're quite a bit stronger and taller.
"I just hope I ski my best and get close to some of my personal bests from last year.
"Getting to the standard and making a couple of finals would be great, especially as it's our off season."
Spavin's selection for the trip Down Under comes on the back of a busy 2012 for the Sir John Nelthorpe pupil.
As well as picking up second and third places in the British nationals, he represented his country for the first time in the European Championships at Maurik, Holland, during August.
Next month's trip, though, will surpass those achievements.
"It's like for any athlete, the World Championships are the pinnacle of competition," said Harry's dad Rob, himself a former skier for Britain, who says sibling rivalry – and the desire to 'do everything his older brothers could' is one of the reasons behind his son's success.
"Water skiing isn't an Olympic sport so we'll never get a chance at that.
"The only thing that could top being selected is winning – and Harry's not in that position at the moment.
"But he's in the top 15 in Europe, which for a first year skier is very promising.
"Results in England have shown Harry to be one of the top guys in the country so he's been selected on merit."
Spavin will join a couple of his British team-mates in flying out to a ski school in America on January 19 to get in some pre-tournament practice.
That's in addition to a busy schedule back at home where, even during the close season, when getting out on to the water can be a problem, he attends the gym at least twice a week, goes rock climbing and skis at least once at a weekend.
Individual medals are available in three events – slalom, tricks and jump – though being an overall skier, Spavin takes part in all three.
"Jump is my favourite event because of the fun you can get out of it and you're travelling and hitting the ramps at speed. It's really great," Harry continued.
"I'm the highest ranked in Europe for that event.
"But it does make it harder because you can be competing against people who specialise in just one event. Every set day they have practising for that one event, I have to split my time between the three.
"You expect them to be a bit better, so it can be hard to compete against someone specialist."
Regardless of results in Mulwala, which is about three hours inland from Melbourne, dad Rob and the rest of the family who will fly 10,000 miles to watch him in action say it will be a proud moment.
"I get constantly reminded about how long ago it was that he started beating my scores," he joked.
"Water skiing is not a massive, sprawling sport. A lot of people involved are close-knit and everybody who watches him does it with anticipation because they've seen him progress in two years.
"It's been a very steep progression."
One that also shows few signs of stopping.