It’s pretty tough being a slalom paddler in Argentina. There are lots of beautiful and famous waterways, but none of them really replicate an artificial slalom course.

So paddlers like 16-year-old Nerea Castiglione spend their time adapting.

“I started on flatwater because in Argentina we don’t have an artificial course,” Castiglione said.

“So we trained in a natural river, which is okay, but it’s so hard when we come here because the water is so much more powerful.”

This week Castiglione is in Krakow, competing at the ICF Junior and U23 Canoe Slalom World Championships. She spent the days leading up the championships as part of the ICF’s Talent Identification Program (TIP) camp.

“The coaches were so good, I learned a lot. I was so happy to be there,” she said.

Castiglione is loving being a slalom paddler, but admits she could have chosen far easier sports to practice in Argentina. When she was seven, her local municipality offered up a list of sport children could take part in.

She chose slalom.

“I wanted to do slalom because I think it is so much more fun,” she said.

“There’s so much adrenalin, I like it so much. Of all the sports in our municipality, this is what I wanted to try, and I have not stopped.”

All the hard work paid off on Thursday, although it was a long a difficult journey. On Thursday morning she did two K1 junior runs, just missing out on qualifying for the semi-final. After lunch she set off on her first run in the junior C1. This time, she achieved the magic number.

On Friday afternoon she’ll compete in her first semi-final.

“I’m so tired,” she said after her qualifying run.

“I was so close to getting in the semi-final in the K1, but I couldn’t. I feel tired, but at the same time I felt motivated, because C1 was my unique opportunity to get into the semi final, so I was concentrating so hard.

“I was very happy with the run, I think I did all I said I would. It’s the best thing in this sport when you can do all of that.”

Castiglione said she will leave Krakow a better paddler than when she arrived. And with a clear path to achieving her big goal – the Olympic Games.

Canoe Slalom