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Silver medallists . . . On the podium are (from left) Annie Metcalfe, Jaimee Trainor, Ruby Bradley, April Linares, Gemma Bennion (Petone Roing Club) Cassidhe Harrop, Jessie Bailey, Isabella Hanning and coaches Zoe Le Lievre and Owen Gould. PHOTO: ROWING CELEBRATIONS PHOTOGRAPHY

Oamaru rowers dug deep for top performances at the New Zealand championships on Lake Ruataniwha at the weekend.

The gold singlets returned with five medals – one gold, three silver and a bronze.

For Oamaru Rowing Club coach Owen Gould, the highlight was Oamaru’s novice eight winning silver, despite losing a rower at the last minute.

“We had to borrow a rower [Gemma Bennion] from Petone Rowing Club, which I thought would’ve affected us, but it didn’t – we maintained the standard we had previously, so it was pretty special,” Gould said.

The novice eight had been training hard this season, including taking part in spring and summer training camps where the girls, all aged 13 to 16, “clocked up quite a few miles”.

“It’s just all fallen into place [and] we’ve got an exceptional cox in Zoe le Lievre,” he said.

“She’s my assistant coach and she’s just a rare talent.”

As the saying goes, “a very good cox is worth three lengths to you in a tight race”, Gould said.

“That’s exactly how it was, she’s just a very talented young girl.

“Over the years [the Oamaru Rowing Club] has had two or three New Zealand representative coxes and she is right up there, if not better,” he said.

Now, their focus is on Maadi Cup from March 25 to 30.

Golden boys . . . Oamaru Rowing Club coach Owen Gould (centre) celebrates with Southern Rowing Performance Centre rowers Jared Brenssell (left) and Mark Taylor (right) at Lake Ruataniwha. PHOTO: ROWING CELEBRATIONS PHOTOGRAPHY

Southern Rowing Performance Centre rowers Mark Taylor and Jared Brenssell, who row under Oamaru Rowing Club, also had a “rather exceptional” week at the New Zealand championships, Gould said.

Taylor won gold in the men’s under-22 double sculls, and silver in the men’s coxless quad and men’s single sculls.

He also got the call-up for a New Zealand under-23 trial later this month.

Brenssell won bronze in the men’s under-22 double sculls.

Oamaru was the little club that could, Gould said.

“I think the special thing about it is we haven’t got the water laid on, we’ve got 25 strokes, 30 strokes at the best of times, and we’ve got to do a lot of work off the water – and we’re pretty damn good at that, pushing that pain button,” he said.