Darius Ramrattan stares down whitewater rapids for fun these days, but that’s a long way from where his paddling journey has taken him.
It actually started at a pool in Innisfail in 2010, when Ramrattan thought it would be “neat” to try the sport.
“I found a flyer and said this looks neat, ‘I’d like to try that and the rest is history,’” he said.
Today at 19, Ramrattan races his kayak all over the world.
Originally from Innisfail, the teen is fresh off a summer of travelling the International Canoe Federation circuit with stops in Germany and Slovakia.
That wasn’t always a guarantee for the kayaker, who suffered a major injury in a hiking accident two years ago where he broke his femur and pelvis, and shattered his left heel.
Ramrattan said the injury could have capsized his dream but instead he stayed positive and pushed for future in the sport.
“I started doing it because I love it and I just focused on that. Loving what you do is very important, especially when the results aren’t what you want them to be. When you’re getting frustrated as long as you love what you do, it’ll be solid motivation to keep going,” he said.
“As a kid I was pushing towards the Olympics, the injury has obviously pushed me back. We’ll see in a few years how that’s healed up.”
One of the major highlights was at the Canoe Slalom World Cup in Markkleeberg, Germany where he competed and sought advice from professional paddlers, some of whom were his heroes in the sport.
His second big event came the following week in mid-July in Bratislava, where he raced for the third time at the Canoe Slalom Junior and U23 World Championships.
Ramrattan finished 55th in the Under 23 K-1 Slalomm. He admits he did not race up to expectations but felt it was an overall good experience for someone who is just 19 years old.
“Given the depth of the field in Europe, you can’t go in expecting too much,” he said. “I just wanted to see how close I could get to semi-finals. There were multiple Olympians in my category and class. I’m content with the result.”
Earlier this month, Ramrattan collected a silver medal in Ottawa at the Whitewater National Championships.
“I was quite content with that, good racing there. Nice to have an event like that with team Canada all in one place. Get to see and meet up with some old friends,” he said.
After a summer of racing the immediate focus for the 19-year-old is his upcoming semester at University of Calgary where he’ll start his second year studying science.
Ramrattan hopes to be back at the Junior World Championships next year in Ivrea, Italy, but beyond that is taking things one step at a time.
“At this point I’m just focused on rebuilding myself after the accident two years ago and see if I can maximize my recovery and see what that looks like and formulate a realistic and accurate goal from there,” he said.