ROWING: ROOFER James Mayers showed his head for heights when he starred for Great Britain in exalted company, writes DAVE BETTLEY.
The 30-year-old canoeist helped his country to pick up two fourth places in four-man - or K4 - events at a weekend international regatta.
Self-employed James was called up at less than a week's notice for the event in Spain.
But he was able to fit his work schedule around the event at Sanabria.
James, a member of Runcorn Canoe Club and installed as its chairman earlier this summer, is one of those rare competitors who seem able to master any discipline within their sport.
He recently gained two first places and a third in the Kayak National Sprint Championship at Holme Pierrepont National Sports Centre in Nottingham - racing over 500m and 1,000m in K1 and K2 events.
And the weekend before his Spanish expedition, he finished third at the National Marathon Championships.
This saw him row 16 miles in a K2, partnered by Dave Peddler from Worcester in their third event together.
The course involved alternating between the River Thames and Eton Regatta Lake - fitting in four short runs between the various paddling stints!
'I do prefer the longer distances, particularly the 16 miles,' he said.
'But I have been doing a lot of 10km races this year and I have been steadily improving in them.'
Compared to the marathon the Spanish races were a short hop and, of course, there were also two extra pair of hands to share the workload!
Saturday saw a 7km river race but the main event was the following day on a 6km lake course.
On the water with James, who runs Mayers Roofing Contractors, were Richard Golder of Nottingham, the RAF's David Duff and Simon Fenneymore from Reading.
Being the tallest of the four - at 6ft 2in - James canoed in position four, at the back of the kayak.
'I had the longest arms and it was the widest bit of the boat,' he explained.
With 25 other crews in the competition, fourth place in each race was a superb result which delighted James and his team-mates.
He said: 'We were the third-placed international crew because a Spanish club boat came in third behind the Spanish international team, who won, and the Argentinians in both races.'
James has been living in Helsby but has returned to his native Runcorn to set up home in Greenway Road.
He took up canoeing as a 13-year-old at Frodsham High and returned to the sport about five years ago.
In the lead-up to the National Marathon championships, he had trained eight times a week while readily admitting the robust nature of his job helps with endurance.
His next big event is on the Liffey in Ireland in September when he will be representing the Runcorn club, based on the Weaver Navigation at Clifton.