Clay Wright is a 55-year-old self-proclaimed show-off who never really thinks about winning anything.

Clay Wright is also a three-time ICF Canoe freestyle squirt boat world champion, the American sealing his third consecutive world title with a series of trademark moves in front of an appreciative audience at Nottingham’s Holme Pierrepont Whitewater Centre on Wednesday.

Wright leapfrogged to the top of the leaderboard with a last ride that saw him completely submerged for several seconds, the crowd, judges and commentators all scanning the water surface trying to guess where he would emerge.

Unlike his two earlier rides, his final attempt was perfect, emerging at exactly the location he had planned, picking up a truckload of points, and setting a 1486 point total that the rest of the field found insurmountable.

“That just popping up on the wall, that felt so good, and everything after that was more of a celebration,” Wright said.

“I wasn’t really thinking about the points, I was just thinking that was sweet, this is fun, and then everything kind of just blurred from one trick to another and it all went according to plan at that point.”

The American loves squirt boat. He does it because he enjoys it, and the fact it has made him a world champion three times is a nice little sidebar.

“It’s squirt boating, it’s fun, it’s something I do a lot just for fun, and sometimes I score points and sometimes I don’t, it’s fun when you do, it’s fun when you don’t, it really is fun,” Wright said.

“I’ve never been one who really looks to win something, I just like to get better and better and better. I like to show off, and I like to show that I didn’t suck and I did actually work a little bit and practiced this stuff and can compete with the big boys.

I don’t like to aim for a gold or a medal

“I don’t like to aim for a gold or a medal or any of that kind of stuff, I just like to show people I can paddle well, because I love paddling, I love paddling well, and I love paddling well in front of people.”

And the people love watching him, even when he does snuff out the gold medal hopes of the locals. Clay Wright is a showman who has almost spent more of his life on the water then off it.

And while he enjoys watching the younger paddlers throwing new tricks and bending their bodies like he once could, Wright believes he has one big advantage.

“I’ve been squirt boating since I was 15, I’ve had a lot of time in these boats and a lot of time on the water, and I think when the pressure is on, and everything’s moving around and you’re not quite sure where to go, all that experience with the water helps out.”

Pics by Antony Edmonds/AE Photos

USA Clay Wright freestyle squirt Nottingham 2022

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