GRAINGER'S BACK! INSPIRING INVICTUS, CLUBS' NEW HOMES, LET’S GET RACING! September 26 2014
She’s baaack! But will she be back on a medal podium in Rio? Four-times Olympic medallist Katherine Grainger returned to training with the Great Britain squad this week, saying: “Many people have said it's a risk, but in the words of Neil Simon the playwright: "If no one ever took risks, Michelangelo would have painted the Sistine floor.”
Grainger and Anna Watkins were one of the three GB women’s crews who won gold at London 2012 but the squad had a disappointing world championships in Amsterdam this time around, with gold for pair Helen Glover and Heather Stanning the sole highlight.
Can Grainger win another gold? First she will have to find a crew-mate or three. On the same day that Grainger announced her comeback, Watkins confirmed that baby number two is on the way.
Delighted for Katherine who's decided to go back rowing. Go girl. I'm sadly v unlikely to join her but for happy reason- baby 2 due in Feb!— Anna Watkins (@annawatkinsgb) September 23, 2014
A double – perhaps with Vicki Thorneley – or a quad look the most likely boats but there’s lots of work to do before then. Rather than commit to Rio straight away, Grainger looks set to take it week by week initially. The British Rowing Champs on 18/19 October are likely to be the first step – all wannabe squaddies are expected to take part – then long distance trials in Boston in November.
The comments on her Facebook page, and my own quick Twitter poll, show loads of support for Grainger’s return, with just one or two dissenters who think she has taken a step too far. What do you think? Leave a comment below or tweet using the hashtag #TheRowlup.
Lost my space in the changing rooms today, but happy to welcome back Katherine Grainger to the team! #knowyourplace— jessica eddie (@jesseddie) September 23, 2014
There were medals aplenty for another British team recently as the British Armed Forces team finished top in the indoor rowing competition at the Invictus Games in Olympic Park. There’s a quick interview with the team captain here.
The man you see 26 seconds into the video is Prestonian Kieran Wood, a former soldier in the Duke of Lancaster's Regiment who lost the use of his right arm and partial loss of use of his right leg after a car crash, which happened on his first day back in the UK on leave from duty in Iraq. Holding the ergo handle with his left hand only he won a bronze medal in the IR3 endurance event, covering 939m in four minutes. I spoke to Kieran recently and he’s hoping to get a chance to try a rowing boat out soon.
Clubs' New Homes
Doors have been opening to new boathouses up and down the country over the last few weeks.
In Hammersmith, the Fulham Reach Boat Club - the Tideway’s first new club for over 50 years - took delivery of £160k of new singles quads and eights from Wintec, for use by local people and state school pupils who are eager to mix it up with the public school rowing establishment.
FRBC chief exec Steve O’Connor gave an insight into the less tangible aims of the £3m project when he told me: “Some of these students have never been involved in sport. We want to teach them that being out of breath is okay.”
Several of the schoolchildren present at the boat-unloading are now media event veterans, having already featured twice in the Evening Standard. They start rowing for the first time very soon.
Leeds University Boat Club and Leeds Rowing Club unlocked the doors on their new £1m facility in Stourton, to the delight of British Rowing, who have identified the area as part of their development plan.
Surbiton High School welcomed double Olympic champ Andy Triggs Hodge to open their new place, the former BBC Sailing Club on the Kingston Reach.
And, two years on from a fire that left the old boathouse gutted, Marlow RC began to move boats back into their new home, after camping out at seven different sites, including Longridge Scout Camp. The move isn’t without its downsides, though.
Although the downside of all being back at the club is a return to traffic jams at the landing stages... pic.twitter.com/CayxuJ1SKE— Marlow Rowing Club (@marlow_rowing) September 21, 2014
Four men and their quad
What does it take to win Great Britain’s first crew sculling medal for 20 years at the World Junior Championships? This video by crew member Sam Meijer gives a bit of an insight.
The Rowlup understands that the smooth boating move at 1’47 took quite a bit of practice.
Pairs go further
Sam Meijer will be among the contenders at the Pairs Head on 4th October. The traditionally runs from Chiswick to Hammersmith Bridge but has been extended a little further this year to the end of Harrods Wall. Don’t get caught out!
Among the other early-season racing highlights is Wallingford Long Distance Sculls on Saturday. The new-look Junior Rowing News site has an extensive preview of the junior events.
There is a dark cloud over the Tideway at the start of the season following the death of Mortlake A&A BC stalwart Anna Roots, who was knocked down and killed by a lorry while on a 12-day charity ride from John O’Groats to Lands End.
Anna, who had been married to coach Ian Roots for three years, was a multiple Henley Women’s winner and represented England both at the Commonwealth Regatta in Canada in 2010 and at several Home International Regattas.
She and friend Rebecca Edgar had hoped to raise £4,950 for Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research from their ride. After their fundraising page featured in newspaper reports, more than six times that amount has so far been donated.
Going for Guildford
Guildford Rowing Club begin the new season aiming to match last year’s tally of 75 wins, with highlights including success for both the men’s and women’s squads at the National Masters Championships and at Henley Masters Regatta.
“We are blessed with a large measure of goodwill and ambition," says captain Stephen Wright, highlighting the work of the parents running the 100-strong junior squad.
Unlike most clubs it also has a Para-rowing programme, run by Robert Hall, which helped former handcyclist Rachel Morris on her way to World Championships silver this summer, in her first season in the sport.
The Rowlup is looking to feature clubs, universities and schools looking forward to the new season. If you would like your club to feature, get in touch.