A SPORTS scholar from south east Northumberland has returned to the UK as a world champion after winning a gold medal for rowing.
Jamie Kirkwood, from Cresswell, and his rowing team won the gold medal for Great Britain in the Lightweight 4 category at this year's Under-23 World Championships in Belarus.
The 20-year-old's crew faced stiff opposition but launched a tactically successful sprint to the finish line from the 1,500 metre mark, leaving crews from Italy and the USA in the silver and bronze medal positions.
As well as the gold, GB also won three silver and three bronze medals, making this their most successful win in a competition at this level.
The victory follows previous wins at the Wedau International Regatta in Duisburg in May and the Henley Royal Regatta in July, where Jamie's crew lifted the prestigious Visitor's Challenge Cup.
Jamie said: "It hasn't really sunk in, to be honest, but it's an amazing feeling.
"I am really pleased with how I've done this year, it's a great achievement for myself and the whole team."
Jamie, who is now a qualified rowing coach, started when he was 14-years-old at Cambois Rowing Club after swimming competitively for many years up to county level.
In 2008 and 2009 he won gold in the lightweight men's double sculls at the National Championships of Great Britain, as well as a gold medal for England at the Home Countries International Regatta in Cardiff.
In May this year, Jamie took the British University and Colleges Sport (BUCS) gold medal for London's Roehampton University, where he is currently studying a sport and exercise science degree, in his single scull at the National Water Sports Centre in Nottingham.
He is also representing Roehampton and British universities at the World University and European University events in Szeged, Hungary and Amsterdam this month.
Jamie said: "I'm feeling positive about the events and I've been training hard.
"I'm just going to go and give it my best shot."