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The Athletic Union’s Sam Roberts reports on one of the most impressive recent achievements by a St Andrews student as Jonny Hawkins claims the Etive River Race Open Singles title

Earlier in the year, a St Andrews student claimed victory at one of the UK’s most prestigious extreme sporting events.

Celebrating its third year, the Etive River Race in the West Highlands attracts elite competitors from right across Europe. For this years competition, 50 kayakers qualified and arrived ready to test a series of tough white water rapids and rock slides that culminate in ‘Right Angle Falls’: a challenging and spectacular seven meter waterfall.

“This is the most extreme kayak race in the UK,” said organiser James Fleming. “It’s not for everyone and not just anyone can take part.”

Jonny Hawkins (21), a 3rd year Geography student led the field to win the open singles competition with a time of 13.30 minutes over the 2.5km course. Hawkins, a former captain of the University Canoe Club and current Secretary of the Athletic Union has over a decade of experience kayaking and competing in several different countries.

He said, “It was an awesome day: the course is unrelenting the whole entire time, there is always something coming up around the next corner”.

“It’s just an adventure,” said Joel Wilson, a St Andrews graduate and fellow competitor. “It tests all your skills and by the time you are at the end, your body is reaching its limits.”

A test of endurance and sheer speed, the event’s popularity grows every year and is supported by the National Trust for Scotland. Hawkins’ success in a kayak follows last year’s headline grabbing paddle from Devon to St Andrews by science student James Killingbeck.

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