In the lead-up to last week’s New Zealand Rowing Championships, Owen Gould promised to add the names of any Oamaru gold medal winners to the rowing club’s honours board within a week.
On Monday, the Oamaru Rowing Club coach was scrambling to keep his promise, making arrangements to get the women’s intermediate coxed eight listed alongside the rest of Oamaru’s New Zealand champion crews.
The national regatta was initially put on hold due to Alert Level 2, but was able to get under way last week with a condensed programme of rowing over three days instead of the scheduled five.
Up against some strong competition, the Oamaru intermediate coxed eight – Georgie McCarthy, April Linares-Fontona, Amelia Wilkinson, Abbey Wilson, Bailey Chapman, Sophie Linares-Fontona, Lily Rawson, Sophie McMillian-Sinclair and Quinn Plunkett – dug deep to win the final and bring home a gold medal.
Gould had expected them to do “extremely well” after all the work they had put into training – and the crew led the final from start to finish.
“They went out in front and then they won by 6sec, which is quite a margin in an eight.
“Awesome – New Zealand champions.”
The Oamaru Rowing Club did not often enter crews of eight, because the Oamaru Harbour was not big enough for them to train in, which made their gold medal-winning performance all the more impressive.
“I don’t think anybody in this country has only got a little bit of water like that to train on – some of them have kilometre after kilometre if they want it.
“But at the same time, they did a lot of work in the Oamaru Harbour – and we went away in the weekends to Waihao Box.”
Their training out of the water was also key to their success.
“We’re very lucky in some ways – we’ve got a gym.
“Not many schools and clubs do have gyms like we’ve got. We do a lot of work in the gym, strengthening work.”
The women’s intermediate coxed eight also split into two crews of four – a Waitaki Girls’ High School team and a St Kevin’s College team – at the New Zealand Rowing Championships.
The St Kevin’s team won bronze in the women’s intermediate final, while the Waitaki Girls’ team placed a creditable fifth.
All up, 18 Oamaru rowers competed at the national championships – the club’s novice eight finished sixth and one of the novice fours finished fifth.
They all handled the uncertainty of Covid-19 well and rowing conditions in Twizel were perfect, Gould said.
“It was absolutely like glass all the time – so everything worked out really good in the finish.”
Now, the Oamaru rowers’ focus shifts to next month’s South Island Secondary Schools championships and the Maadi Cup.