Canoeing: Barrett brothers are eyeing golden future
WHEN Jacob and Ethan Barrett take to the water, they are inspired by the gold-medal winners that have gone before them.
There is a long way to go before the Gamston-based brothers have the famous medals in their hands, but there is no doubting that is where they plan to be.
In October 2011, Great Britain Canoeing decided to visit schools in a bid to identify talent, the first systematic effort made in this country.
Rushcliffe School in Boundary Road, West Bridgford, was one of those schools.
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After year 7 and 8 pupils had their canoeing skills put to the test, 12-year-old Jacob was one of the children selected for a new training programme.
Just 12 months later and Jacob's 12-year-old brother, Ethan showed that talent runs in the family, winning a place in the programme himself.
"He was keen to emulate his older brother and determined to succeed," the boys' dad, Mick Barrett said.
"Jacob is an interesting case. His younger brother is quite a keen football and rugby player but we couldn't get Jake keen on team games.
"He has tremendous balance and core strength. It slowly gripped his imagination – by the end he was really good and he has just not looked back."
The programme is one of serious effort and commitment too. Once enrolled, Jacob and Ethan are expected to train most days, either in the pool, gym or on the water.
And now, with March looming, the new canoeing season is set to begin with both brothers set to take competeg in the national leagues and looking to break into the international setup.
There are five divisions in the canoeing leagues, with Jacob already in the third tier and Ethan set to start life in the fifth and the duo will be competing with people of all ages.
The season involves days away across the country most weekends with each of the brothers likely to be in different locations.
Mick said: "Jacob will be looking to push and make division one. The sky's the limit for all of them.
"We would look to have Ethan in Division Two and Jacob knocking on the Premier League by the end of the season.
"If they do well enough ultimately by the end of this season they'll be looking to be In the GB U16 squad. It's absolutely achievable."
There is no doubting the duo's desperation to succeed and it seems the London 2012 Olympics only further inspired them.
"We couldn't get tickets for the canoe slalom but we went down for the selection meeting and we were in one of the parks when Etienne and Tim won," Mick said.
"That inspired the kids to greater heights. Etienne is with them quite often – he's been an inspiration
Clearly, future stardom is already something that is being planned.
Mick added: "Rio (2016 Olympics) would probably be too early but we wouldn't rule it out!"
This isn't any ordinary case of pushy parents. Jacob and Ethan are clearly in agreement.
"My biggest ambition is to get to the Olympics in 2020," Jacob said.
"We watched the trials. I'd like it to be me one day.
"I've met Etienne and Tim – meeting them both makes it believable. They inspire me.
Ethan said: "I think we're aiming for the Olympics – that would be really good, the two of us, a bit of brotherly competition."
The duo have been helped out by local businesses on the way. George Square financial management, based in the city centre, have sponsored a lot of Jake's expensive equipment and David Lloyd West Bridgford have given free gym membership for all the hours of training.
Behind the ambitious youngsters and sponsors though, is a story of parental sacrifices and commitment.
Mick said: "We used to have a life and a little bit of money. Now we've got neither. But, it is very exciting.
"The world is their oyster at the moment. They've got every chance of making it.
"The bottom line is it's down to them. But they're keen and doing well. We're extremely proud"
Richard Ramsdale coaches the boys during their membership of the Nottingham Canoe Slalom Talent Academy.
He said: "I think the big thing is they've got such a good family.
"The boys are well brought up, very keen and very eager.
"Their parents are very supportive. They've brought them a good level of determination.
"I feel very lucky because they're very coachable – Jacob's had a year with us and Ethan has just started.
"Jacob's in the top 200 and in the top 30 for his age group; to achieve that in a year is very impressive."