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Schools Case Studies

North East Schools Travel to NJIRC

Date Added: Tue, 23 Mar 2010

Related tags: Competition, Event Ideas, Key Stage 3, Key Stage 4, London Youth Rowing, Success Story

On Tuesday this week indoor rowers from the North East travelled to London to take part in the National Junior Indoor Rowing Championships (NJIRC).

After the highly successful North East Regional Indoor Rowing Championships held in the first week of March at Maiden Castle, Durham, partners in that event - The Tony Blair Sports Foundation, Northumbria Water and the Competition Managers were able to offer individual medalists the chance to enter the National Junior Indoor Rowing Championships (NJIRC) held at Battersea Evolution in London on Tuesday 16th March.

It was 11 pm on Monday evening as the luxury coach, sponsored by Northumbrian Water, pulled away from Morpeth with the first group of North East rowers. Picking additional competitors, parents, coaches and staff at Hexham and Durham, we travelled south through the night. After a brief comfort break at Wetherby, quiet fell in the darkness of the coach as eyes closed and a few snatched hours of sleep were taken.

Crossing Chelsea Bridge and turning into Battersea Park at just after half past 6, the deserted car park greeted our bleary eyed group. There was life though, as some of the earliest event organizers took our competition registrations and soon the excitement began to grow as the interior of the huge building lit up with coloured lights, 80 rowing machines being tested, volunteers being briefed and various associated activities being set up. By nine the place was beginning to fill with well over 100 volunteers and just over 3000 competitors from right across the country.

Racing began at shortly before 10:30 with 40 Year 9 boys in the first heat, this was quickly followed by the second heat and then the third. Then came the Year 9 girls heats - Lydia Vennart and Fran Ronan, from Queen Elizabeth High School, Hexham went in the first. In a really close race, Lydia won with Fran only 3 metres behind in second. Exhausted, the girls and their supporters watched as the rowers in heat 2 tried to beat our girls' distances, then heat 3, still ahead - in heat 4 two rowers moved in front and after the 5 heats we finished in 5th and 6th - magnificent out of almost 180 competitors.

Racing continued non stop throughout the day, heat after heat, with some really great results for our North East rowers. Late in the afternoon came the Year 12 boys' races. Three of our rowers, Matthew, Michael and Charlie from Queen Elizabeth, were in the same heat, sat next to each other on rowers 38, 39 and 40. Right from the off all three featured high on the leader board; our whole team were at the side shouting encouragement as positions changed and Charlie moved up to the front and for the last 1000 metres the lead changed several times. Such effort by all three, such support from their team mates, encouragement from the volunteers and from members of the Cambridge University boat race crew as they headed into the final 250 metres. It was neck and neck between Charlie and a rower from Kent who just edged Charlie into second - a brilliant and really close race. In the second heat one rower, a GB international, produced the best time of the day, but a magnificent bronze medal for Charlie.

Full Results for our team:

A parent, whose daughter has only started rowing this year, said, "What a brilliant day, tiring, but so worthwhile to see my daughter do so well in a national competition." Charlie Dickinson, our bronze medalist, said, "I tried so hard, I gave everything, we all did. It was a great race and I am so proud to have won the bronze"

A coach was delighted, "My rower achieved a personal best, I can't ask for any more than that." Rod Rogers, Senior Competition Manager for Northumberland said, "It was well worth the long trip. Our rowers proved themselves on the national stage and I look forward to further top performances by our North East athletes. Many thanks must go to Northumbrian Water, who sponsored the transport, and to all our partners in competitive schools' rowing in our region."

On the journey home the group reflected on the good achievements of everyone before spending much of the journey dreaming of even better days!

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