Rowers look to future

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The Oamaru Rowing Club has some great talent rising through the ranks, but they’re looking to bolster their numbers.

At lunchtime on Friday, Club members were at St Kevin’s College promoting the sport and celebrating the success of Oamaru rower, and former SKC student, Johannah Kearney.

Kearney was also there to promote the sport, and proudly displaying her bronze medal from the world under-23 championships in Austria last month.

Also on display were two of the Oamaru Rowing Clubs elite racing boats.

“These racing boats are going back up to Twizel so we wanted to make the most of them,” Kate Mihaere, of the Oamaru Rowing Club, said.

“We’re hoping to get some more support from the kids and get some more kids involved so we can get some more crews on the water.”

They are running a “Learn to Row” programme, which launches on September 22.

“We’re making the most of having our racing kit here and basically letting the kids know that this is coming up,” Mihaere said.

“We are just wanting to get some interest, get some kids along and get some boats on the water and have some success.”

She said the Club was very lucky to have coaches Nick Robertson, Owen Gould and Stew Mitchell on board this year.

“We’ve got good coverage as far as rowing coaches go, because it can be quite hard to get coaches.”

They will also be joined by some former experienced rowers who will be helping the club as well.

“There’s a lot going on and this is just the start of it, it’s great, ” she said.

Since being founded in 1886, the Oamaru Rowing Club was “reborn” in the late 1950s and can lay claim to; members winning a number of New Zealand titles, 17 New Zealand representatives, including six at Olympic or Worls Championship level and three Olympic golds.

Mihaere said Kearney was a great role model for young Oamaru rowers. She was a great example that despite Oamaru’s size, rowers could go on to achieve great things.

Kearney is based back in Oamaru for the next few weeks, but will be heading back to Christchurch soon to start training again at the Southern Regional Performance Centre, part of Rowing NZ’s High Performance Programme encompassing the Canterbury, Otago and Southland Regions.

Kearney was a key member of the New Zealand women’s four that won a bronze medal at the world champs.

“We had quite a rough campaign, there was quite a lot of injury, so we had a lot of time out of the boat,” she said.

“It was so amazing, such a good experience, such a step up from juniors last year. It’s just a longer campaign and a lot more hours… It was so good to get those results with that.”

She said the Oamaru Rowing Club had been amazing to her over the years.

“The Rowing Club, and actually everyone in the community, have been really helpful,” she said.

She stumbled across rowing when her older brother first started. She was approached by one of the coaches to come down and give it a go, and she was hooked from there.

“It takes a long time to pick it up, you feel a bit weird, but once you get going and figure out how to make the boat go fast it’s a really good feeling,” she said.

This year, she started study at Otago University, managed to attend four days of lectures and labs before getting the call up to trial for the New Zealand under-23 rowing team. After making it, study went on the back-burner as she decided to focus on rowing.

Looking to the future, she’s eyeing up a spot at the Olympics, but she knows it’s a long time away and her focus is on summer regattas for now.

By Rebecca Ryan