Sadly we are still in the gym for the majority of our sessions. We had a brief respite when the summer visited February but it soon ran off, thinking better of its daring show. Much of our work has been on general fitness and our young rowers have been training hard doing a lot of circuit training.
Since our own competition at The Halliwell Jones some of our athletes have been on duty, racing in Northwich and or London. The Cheshire School Sports Indoor Rowing Competition took place in Northwich. Three of our schools took part, Birchwood, Culcheth and Sir Thomas Boteler. The majority of our teams were made up of rowers that had been involved with WYR and they performed very well indeed. A lot of the other schools that attended had rowers in their teams that are training with local rowing clubs and their superior fitness and technique did show in certain events. Never the less our youngsters rolled up their sleeves and won several events. This event needs supporting but it fell badly, with the London trip in the same week. Understandably staff pressures got the better of some schools. In an effort to help Warrington Youth Rowing have offered to take over the running of this event and combine it with our own competition. (30th January 2020 Birchwood). Hopefully we will be able to confirm this idea soon.
Friday 15th March finds The Warrington Youth Rowing Team waiting, at Bank Quay Station for a train to London and The National Junior Indoor Rowing Championships. The 6.20am service got us into Euston at 8.30am and from there we walked to St Pancras to catch another train to Stratford and the Copper Box Arena. We eventually established base camp, just after 10am and the youngsters slowly started to bond, breaking down any school barriers. I have to say the school leads were great, getting stuck in with the group, regardless of the origin of the children. It was at this stage that the team came together and we were now Team Warrington, a big step for the athletes. The NJIRC is so big that there are 4 race areas, each with some 30 rowing machines. With some events having about 200 competitors there are effectively 6 or 7 groups or heats to race before a winner can be declared.
Our first race was the year 8 boys and our lads were split up into different heats. The five lads did very well with Alfie and Tom both ending up in the top 10 of the overall results. This event attracted 194 entries.
The year 8 girls were next in the arena and again they were a great credit. Special mention must go to Amy, who must be one of the most determined athletes I have ever worked with. She managed to get into the top 10 when the results surfaced. This was the biggest event with 196 entries.
Our two year 9 boys now took to the race floor and again performed beyond expectations. Jonah came in a creditable 17th and Michael finished 4th the worst place of all. There were 185 entries in this event.
The relays were next up and we entered a year 8 boys and girls team. Both teams rowed themselves into the ground with the boys finishing 12 out of 84. The girls won their heat and had high hopes of a medal but sadly they finished 5th out of 72 teams. What we didn’t realise at the time was that the relays were open to children older than year 8, a lesson learnt for next year!
Our last event was the year 10 girls. Ellie had picked up a bronze medal last year, as a year 9 and was keen to add to her collection. Her pal Ifi was also in this event and they train together at Warrington Rowing Club. The girl’s often race together, so there is a healthy rivalry that sits along side their great friendship. This event showed us the two sides of competitive sport. Elle upped her game and came home with a fantastic silver medal. Ifi missed the bronze by 3 metres, needless to say she was absolutely devastated and it took her a good 2 hours to regain her composure. She did and it has made her more determined never to be 4th again.
The journey home began via a pit stop at McDonalds and the Warrington Team arrived back at Bank Quay just after 8.30pm.
This event is a great shop window for Warrington Youth Rowing and it is certainly in our plans to repeat the exercise next year. It may well be the biggest sporting event these youngsters ever take part in, it should provide them with lasting memories and I hope new friends.
I must thank lots of people for making it happen. The School’s and the leads that travelled. Namely Paula, Nat, Kerry, Ryan, Scott, Mark and Paul our WYR coach. We must also remember the folk that got together last year at Mere Court Hotel for our fundraising dinner; they will be pleased that their hangovers provided so much enjoyment!
Monday was The Scullery, one of the biggest rowing events in GB. It takes place on Dorney Lake, the home of 2012 Olympics. Warrington Rowing Club entered 6 crews (out of 550). A number of these boats contained WYR athletes and I am sure they will have retuned with a tale or two to tell.
Monday was also the day that Ben and I had a face too face meeting with Henley Stewards Charitable Trust. The meeting was also at Dorney Lake and it was very helpful to be able to illustrate our presentation with some of our WYR graduates actually taking part in this huge event. This is the organisation that generously sponsors us and makes a lot of things happen. We spent the best part of 90 minutes talking about our project and the fantastic schools that we deal with. It is a privilege to be dealing with such a wonderful and prestigious organisation that is managed by people dedicated to sport and the well being of youngsters.
The weather is slowly improving and there is still plenty of room in the coaching launches for any members of school hierarchy to come and witness our programme. The Chair of British Rowing is coming on Friday March 29th to check us out, I am sure he would like to meet any Heads that would be available?