GREAT Britain has a new canoe sprint world champion after Reading Canoe Club’s Dan Atkins powered his way to gold on day three of the ICF Junior and U23 Canoe Sprint World Championship in Pitesti, Romania.

Having dominated the heats and semi-finals, 18-year-old Atkins had a tough race in a very close final, faced with an agonising wait to find out if he was victorious.

But with his characteristic fast start, he maintained his form and speed over the back end of the race to take gold in 36.835, just 0.062 seconds ahead of Germany’s Tom Maassen (36.897) and Spain’s Gabriel Martinez, who was third in 36.907.

Having just missed out on GB selection last year, Atkins has spent much of the winter training alongside the reigning Olympic Champion over the same distance, Liam Heath MBE.

This impact on his first international season has been quite something as Atkins adds World Championship gold to the European title he won last month.

He said: “I feel amazing, I didn’t know if I had it, but then I saw the scoreboard and heard the cheers from the crowd and I knew I’d won.

“It was a great race, everyone really stepped up so it was really close. I’m just so happy to have won it.

“I have learnt a lot this year training with Liam and Eric (Farrell MBE). Liam is so calm and focussed. He knows what needs to be done and I’m learning a lot about how he operates. Every time I start against him in training means I'm chasing him so I’ve learnt to get out quickly.

"I’ve also been working on the back end of my race with Eric and he has given me the confidence to just keep pushing.”