Nelson’s Heather Potkins (left) is seen here on the podium after winning a silver medal at the sprint canoe kayak nationals.

Heather Potkins wins Nelson’s first medals at sprint canoe kayak nationals

The Nelson Paddling Club athlete won silver and bronze in Regina

Heather Potkins has won Nelson’s first ever medals at the Canadian national sprint canoe kayak championships.

Potkins, who competes and coaches with the Nelson Paddling Club, won a silver and a bronze at the event in Regina.

The 18 year old took silver in the junior women’s C-1 1,000-metre race on Tuesday, then a day later won bronze in the 500. Potkins also finished sixth in the 200.

For the 1,000, Potkins said the race is her favourite distance but she didn’t have any expectations heading into her third trip to nationals.

“I was really excited because it was the first race,” said Potkins. “I had a good start. I find as I go it comes together better, so I was feeling better towards the end.”

Potkins wasn’t the only athlete from Nelson competing at nationals.

Tess Nuttall and Erica Potkins competed in the under-16 women’s K-2 500 races, while Nuttall also teamed up with Zoe Taylor for the U18 K-2 1,000. Erica Potkins and Taylor also combined for the K-2 200.

The medals are a major achievement for the Nelson Paddling Club, which was competing against far bigger clubs from around Canada.

Potkins said the race announcer made a point to tell the crowd how big a deal it was that Nelson was on the podium.

“I think it’s just so great to see the club growing each year and sending more paddlers [to nationals],” said Potkins.

“For the medals it was super exciting to receive the first-ever Nelson medal, but I’m sure they are just going to keep coming because our club is growing, [athletes] are starting to attend more regattas. I can totally see Nelson really starting to build, and B.C. too.”

Matt Nuttall and David Helliwell, the latter of whom is from the Lower Mainland but raced for Nelson, also competed in the Canadian Masters event Sunday in Regina.

Nuttall took double gold with wins in the K1 200 and 500 men’s events before securing bronze with Helliwell in the K2 200.

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