Nino Severino: A future world speedway champion? I meet Drew Kemp
© Copyright Stephen Waller
In his latest column NINO SEVERINO meets up-and-coming Suffolk speedway star Drew Kemp
My role as The Director of The Hub keeps taking many different twists and turns, the latest one seeing my life path trajectory crossing with a child prodigy.
This has happened to me once before, with a junior tennis player called Holly Fisher, who was seen as many as a potential global super star.
So much so, that she was the youngest tennis player in the world to have a Nike and Wilson racket sponsorship deal, with major sports agents already interested in her at 12 years old.
I was brought into Holly's support team to manager all her off court programme, and spent a good number of days a week in London ensuring I could provide her with the level of support needed.
Some of the training was delivered at the National LTA Training Centre in Roehampton. I accompanied Holly to the under 14 European Championships where she represented Great Britain.
The latest prodigy to enter my life is from a sport I never thought I would be involved with, it literally never crossed my mind, but life can, so often throw the unexpected at you, and this is definitely what has happened in this case.
Opening my e-mails every morning is an exciting event in itself, I simply never know what to expect, last week delivered an extra ordinary message, it was from a gentleman called James Grant, he is the grandfather of a very talented young sportsman.
I started to read the e-mail, the more I read, the more I became very interested in this particular young man, who hailed from the world of speedway, his name is Drew Kemp, if you are a speedway fan, you will recognise his name.
After a few e-mail exchanges, both James and I agreed to have a conversation over the phone, I was very much looking forward to finding out a lot more about this incredible young man.
During the conversation it was obvious how proud he was of his grandson, he said he had heard lots about me and The Hub, and how we had developed the reputation for supporting athletes across many of the areas of athlete development.
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He explained that Drew was now taking on the next phase of his life, and how this would make great demands on his body and mind. We had a very long discussion, and agreed that it would be a good idea for Drew to visit our base at IWIC.
As soon as I finished the conversation with James, I begun a bit of research on Drew, which only confirmed what I had been told, to be honest, James was being very humble about his grandson, who has simply been described as an exceptional talent.
He has just completed an incredible first season and now finds himself competing in the senior world of speedway at the tender age of 16, an incredible achievement for such a young teenager.
He has already been compared to the current world champion Tai Woffinden by many in the sport. So, as you can imagine, I was really looking forward to meeting this young man, it was a meeting that lived up to all my expectations, but in very different ways.
As soon as Drew walked into my office, the first thing that struck me, was how young he looked, my first thoughts were how can this young man compete against hardened, seasoned, tough and experienced grown men in such an aggressive and physical sport as speedway?
As we talked, it quickly became obvious that this very humble, intelligent, young man, is simply driven by a hunger to be the very best.
These massive hopes and dreams that Drew possesses, gives him an incredible drive that you would normally only find in fully grown senior athletes. The longer the meeting went on, the more we discussed his speedway life, my experience told me,
I was in the presence of a true prodigy, there is something very special about this young man, that was quite obvious to me.
This year, Drew is already riding at number one for Kent, in National League, and number two for Sheffield in the Championship League. He has also made his international debut in May, making the semi-finals in the World U21 Championships, this will now be followed by him representing Great Britain in the World U21 team finals in July.
He is also an Ipswich Witches asset.
The Hub has delivered some incredible personal experiences for me, and has connected me with outstanding teams, coaches and athletes, it has created a sporting world around me, on a local basis that I could only have dreamed of, Drew, continues this exciting journey for me, and will challenge my skills in terms of becoming another member of his very dedicated support team.
Our portfolio now consists of National teams, Olympians, EIS official World class athletes, and who would argue that potentially, we now have the opportunity of playing a small role in the life of the future Speedway World Champion!