Printed in the Liverpool Echo on April 28, 2011.
A Merseyside schoolboy is the youngest to be picked to represent his country in a dragon boat racing team.
Alex Wood was asked to join the Great Britain Dragon Boat Racing under-18 team as a drummer after impressing organisers with his dedication to local team Waterloo Crusaders.
The 12-year-old, who attends Chesterfield High School, will join teammates from around the country at the Dragon Boat World championships in Tampa Bay, Florida in August.
Alex said: “I was very proud to hear I had been selected for the team and I can not wait for the championships.
“My friends were very impressed when they heard.”
His dad James, a taxi company manager, added: “Alex has put so much hard work into it – he trains four nights a week, often until half nine at night.”
“Most of the lads in the team will be twice his size and strength, but he has proved he is one of the fastest in the country.”
Alex started rowing with the Crusaders around a year ago after seeing them train on a Sunday morning at Crosby Lakeside Adventure Centre.
He was picked to join the national squad after impressing the coach and team manager at trials held in April.
Team manager Peter Richardson said: “We thought the best opportunity for him was to trial as a drummer and he put a lot of time learning what his responsibilities would be.
“He will be the youngest in the team as 12 is the youngest you can be to participate internationally.”
Alex’s role will involve beating a constant pulse and passing instructions to the rest of the crew. The sport involves teams of up to 20 paddlers in a brightly-coloured 40-foot boat featuring a dragon’s head at the front and tail at the back.
Teams compete against each other over a 200 to 2,000-metre course.
Alex said his training regime would get tougher before heading to Tampa with the rest of the team in July.
He added: “I would definitely like to row for Great Britain’s adult team when I am older.” Anyone interested in sponsoring Alex can contact Carla Wood on 0787 929 4576.