The first thing that draws your attention to Jak Fantastic is, of course, the name. More on that later.

Then you notice the hair, and then the infectious laugh. It’s only when she climbs out of her canoe that you realise she is on crutches – and has been for most of her life.

Jak Fantastic, or Jak Alder as she was once known, was born with Club Foot, which also severely affected her hip and back. She’s never been able to walk.

At six years of age she decided to try kayaking, and so began a love affair that stretches now for three decades.

“Why do I do it? It’s the first place that I ever felt free,” Fantastic said in Columbus on Tuesday.

“Everywhere else I’m confined by my legs, but kayaking – that doesn’t make a difference and I can move like anyone else. I don’t think I’ll ever give it up.”

And why would she? On Tuesday at the International Canoe Federation Freestyle World Championships she qualified fifth for the next round of the women’s canoe.

“I’m into the finals, 23 years after my first final,” an excited but disbelieving Fantastic said.

“I was very surprised, I was hoping to come sixth because that was my best ever result. And hopefully this is my last worlds. I’ve been paddling for 30 years, I started when I was six because I couldn’t walk. So I climb around on crutches and go paddling. I’ve loved it all my life really.”

The reason this could be Jak Fantastic’s last worlds? In the coming  months she will have the bottom part of her right leg amputated. She passes this news on so matter-of-factly I ask her if she’s been serious.

She is. Even with all the wonders of modern medicine, there has been little to no improvement in Fantastic’s situation for more than 30 years. So she’s getting the operation done, and then heading off to conquer new frontiers.

“I’m getting my leg chopped off and I’ve got some stuff I want to do out in India, some big creeking, so it’s really nice to have such a high on these championships that I basically did as a bet,” she said.

And as for the name, well in true Fantastic style, it just seemed like a good idea at the time.

“I changed my name after 20 years of going by it, I thought maybe it was time to make it official,” she said.

“I’ve always gone by the name Jak. In the olden days, one of my friends went onto my Facebook page and changed my name to Jak Fantastic and it kind of stuck.

“So when I was changing it, it just seemed natural to do. It gets a few funny comments, you’ve got to really ride it out.”

And with her trademark laugh, Jak Fantastic set off to prepare for her next round, and a potential finale which could well be, fantastic.

Canoe Freestyle