A large number of rowers from the South West were in action at the British Indoor Rowing Championships in London last weekend with many producing some excellent performances against the very best opposition from other parts of the country.
Most of the seniors and juniors who raced were attached to rowing clubs in the area, but there were also number of juniors racing for their schools.
Top performers were Marjorie Roome, from Teign Scullers, Plymouth’s Lara Macro and Evie Ducros from Truro School – all of whom picked up gold medals.
Ducros, a Year 8 student, secured her top spot in the 500-metre sprint event, where she recorded a time of one minute 51.6 seconds, and also finished in fifth place in her three-minute race.
There will be little disappointment for Teignmouth-based Roome who, despite picking up gold in the ladies’ 65-69 age category in both the 2,000m and 500m races, found herself as the only competitor in the longer race, but still posted an impressive time of 8:03.5.
Currently studying at Bath University, Macro took her first place in the sprint event for under-23 lightweights in a time of 1:38.1.
Fellow Team Bath rower Luke Gwenter won the men’s under-23 2k title, and Jens Hullah claimed the junior men’s 500m honours.
There were also silver medals for Amelia Hempleman-Adams in the open women’s 500m, Kate Hunt in the under-23 women’s 500m and Crew Bath rower James Martin in the under-23 lightweight men’s 2k.
Hempleman-Adams then teamed up with Zara Mulholland, a bronze-medallist in the under-23 women’s 2k, Joe Russell and Ollie Chick to finish runners-up in the mixed relay 4k. Hullah, Hunt, Gwenter and Macro were just outside the relay medals in fourth.
Sam Courty and Sara Parfett, graduates of the Bath Start programme at the University, won silver and bronze with their respective GB Rowing Team quartets in the open women’s relay 4k.
Invictus Games athlete Kelly Ganfield, who is coached by Corinne Yorston at the Sports Training Village, also enjoyed a successful first visit to the Indoor Championships.
The Blind Veterans UK ambassador won silver in the PR3-PD para women 2k race, the first time she had rowed that distance competitively, before teaming up with fellow Invictus athletes to win adaptive relay 4k gold.
Two other gold medal hopefuls, however, had to pull out through injury and illness. Bideford oarsman Alastair Peake picked up a leg injury at the Scullers Head of the River two weeks ago while Exeter’s Phoebe Muir had to stop in her race due to illness.
“Unfortunately Phoebe didn’t complete her race after picking up a sickness bug earlier in the week and stopped after four minutes of her race,” explained coach Sue Brookes.
Just missing out on a gold medal was Jason Nickels from Salcombe Rowing Club, who finished in third place in his 2,000m race for lightweights between 50 and 54 and was agonisingly close in the 500m sprints where his time of 1:34.5 brought him a silver.
Hazel Fullman from the City of Bristol club also had to settle for a silver in her race.
Not surprisingly the Open races were dominated by members of the Great Britain squad, with Adam Neill posting the fastest time of the day in a time of 5:48.2 for the 2,000m race, whilst most press attention was centred on Tour de France winner and Olympic cycling gold medallist Sir Bradley Wiggins who is reportedly looking to switch to the sport of rowing. After somewhat of a stuttering start Wiggins recorded a time of 6:22.5 to enable him to finish a very respectable 21st overall.