THREE Taunton Canoe Club youngsters gained some invaluable international racing experience when they were invited by their England canoe slalom coaches to spend 10 days competing in Germany, Austria and Slovakia last month.

This was the first international racing experience for The Castle School student Katie Shattock, and the second for Tom and Harvey Merrifield, the latter having recently left Castle.

The trio were looking forward to training alongside fellow youngsters from around the world, and taking on notorious features such as the ‘zoom flume’ and ‘big drop’ in Bratislava.

There would be no concession for age, with the courses proving difficult and allowing no room for error.

Shattock missed out on qualification on the first day but made it on the second, eventually finishing in ninth.

Tom Merrifield made a flying start, qualifying well and then pulling out all the stops to finish third out of 48.

The Merrifields then combined for C2 racing in Augsburg, beating six other J18 teams across both days to take top spot on the podium.

Shattock came away from Flattach in Austria with eighth and seventh-placed finishes, before the next stop of Bratislava in Slovakia.

Tom Merrifield qualified in his race to finish 10th, while Harvey also qualified on both days before the Merrifields joined forces to finish third.