Liam Ward newly crowned double European Champion has written the following blog piece giving us an insight his experience and achievement at the 2013 European Junior championships in Italy.

I don’t think I’ve totally come to terms yet with what I have achieved. It hadn’t really sunk in until I was on the plane flying back home; it still hasn’t to be honest.

On the day of the Ocean events I did feel nervous. The main thing I was nervous about wasn’t whether I would medal or compete well individually – I was worried that I might be a liability or seen as someone who couldn’t pull their own weight on the team. I honestly feared at the thought of letting my team down.

If someone had told me going into the competition I would return home a two time European champion, I would have struggled to believe it. But after the first race was out of the way (the board heats), I ended up treating the rest of the day as if it was your average Sunday competition. I replaced the nerves with a calm but positive attitude towards everything. I told myself that I had made it this far and that I’m just happy to be here in Italy representing GB & NI.

So with this new positive attitude I ended up making the A Final as coach Lloydy wanted! After making it through the Board heats, I was back to the Flags final. Only came 7th but was uninjured. A few minutes later I ended up winning the board race, which was strange, for myself and everyone else! It wasn’t the event I was known for, and no-one expected it, not even my family.

After that race any remaining nerves were gone. I knew at that point I’m going home with a European title, I could die happy. And all of the credit lay with Woody’s golden advice, “Be patient”. He told me it’s key to be an intelligent racer, stay behind the feet of the leader, get on his wash, conserve your energy and believe in your fitness. Races are won on the last 100m, not at the start. And it was perhaps the best sporting advice I have ever received. And I even used his advice some more on the run swim run.

I went into that race again in 9th or 10th position, but I overtook people using their wash, conserving my energy and then out ran everyone taking the gold. Never have I been so happy in my race performance and tactics. It just goes to show that taking advice that  is given to you is a benefit. It was the best GB & NI youth result I could have asked for. The reason why I’m not confident is that when I started Surf Life Saving at the age of 8, I was beaten repeatedly until the age of 14; I was so small and couldn’t win anything. But I grew late and kept training hard, I later proved that hard work gets results.