Although the indoor schools’ programme has hosted indoor rowing events before, this was the first event held at partner school Redborne Upper and it was great to welcome the Headmaster and the Senior Leadership team to the event.
What made the event even more special was it was being supported and run by Concept2, one of our newest partners and truly a global leader when it comes to rowing equipment. The guys from Concept2, Alex and Dom, provided all machines and software to set up a really professional and organized event, I really cannot thank them enough.
Another of our partners, Swift Racing Boats were also kind enough to bring along a state of the art racing shell, which always seemed to have plenty of people around! I’m guessing that sales were not really high but glad everyone enjoyed looking at the boat – it really helped make the connection between rowing on machines and rowing on the water!
The event was attended by the most number of schools and pupils of any other event we have previously run; with participants from Redborne, Hastingsbury, Biddenham, Bedford College, Rushmoor, Sharnbrook, Samuel Whitbread and Lincroft – the latter flying the flag for the year 8’s!
Unfortunately Wootton were unable to attend because of prior commitments in other sports however that did not stop their top performer, Tom Colbert, a member of the Star Club Junior team getting there to race – and win!
This really is a great sign that schools are fully supporting the Junior Rowing out of Star Club plus the potential for growth amongst the schools that were not there!
The racing provided some really exciting viewing for spectators as a distance of just 1 meter won the first race! This really set the tone of the event with every single participant really giving everything to try and be in front across the line. The winners of each category were spread amongst the schools’ with only one school claiming a 1st, 2nd and 3rd in an event – the Redborne Year 10 Girls, and we’ll put that down to home advantage!
Samuel Whitbread did exceptionally well to put a team together with less than a weeks notice, and took away several medals! A great effort by all and in particular their PE teacher and Extra Curricular Leader, Jason Goldman, who made it happen.
It’s easy to forget when you have been involved in a sport for a long time just how much those first experiences really count and matter; whether that be the first win, the first podium, or even just the first time you have actually raced. Whilst running around trying to make sure everything ran smoothly, there were new experiences happening all around the hall all the time, this created a great atmosphere, a great buzz, you could see the participants feeding from it whilst racing. A great experience for me and the other staff involved.
It is often difficult to pick out a single performance from a whole evening of racing but from this event one individual stood out and gave every single person who was watching a smile – Ryan Church from Hastingsbury. Ryan was racing in the year 12/13 category where his only competitors were the Star Club high performance boys from Sharnbrook, Wootton and Bedford College.
If I was honest this had worried me a bit, I didn’t really want someone to come along just to get smashed by the current rowers, but Ryan added something into the race that really proved winning isn’t everything. After an explosive start Ryan was in front, I personally couldn’t believe it but fair play, take it to them! The inevitable did happen and all his competitors caught Ryan, but it was Ryan himself that was cheering everyone on, offering encouragement to his race, and did not give up.
The Star boys returned the favor by cheering Ryan over the line. As soon as he had finished, up Ryan jumped to pat everyone of the back and shake hands, a brilliant moment for the event and sport! Ryan didn’t win the race, but left the event as an outright winner and possibly gave all those watching the greatest memory to take away with them!
The top performers all received an invitation to the Star Club Recruitment Day on 22nd March as we continue our talent search to find Champions of the Future.
We will hold another event in the summer term, date TBC. Please come and join us and spread the word to other contacts in schools and sports clubs!
Some initial feedback below:
Dylan King, Head of PE, Hastingsbury
It was a joy for me to see such a strong event and I get a real buzz from seeing students work in such a hard yet positive manner! I would like Ryan to come down to STAR for a taster if that would be a possibility as he left buzzing yesterday and came to talk to me first thing this morning. While he is off to uni this year I would like him to continue with rowing and join the uni rowing club.
Mr. A. Whomsley, Assistant Headteacher (Pastoral), Redborne Upper:
The students loved it as it gave them a competitive opportunity to use some of the skills they have learned through the programme Mark has been delivering. It was excellent to see one of our U16 students who had previously taken part in the Star Rowing Club programme come through to win his competition despite choosing rugby over rowing!
The fundamental skills he was taught two years ago stuck with him to give him the confidence to concentrate on his own technique knowing that over the duration of the race he would be able to claw his way to the top and finish first. The sight of the U18 competition with so many of the current Star Club Squad was an exhibition to watch and I was equally impressed with the lone Hastingsbury student who performed exceptionally well in a race where several PB’s were broken.
His single act of determination and power highlights just how potential athletes can be overlooked or not given the opportunity in such a fantastic sport as rowing. We will never really know just how many future Olympians are lost to this country because of a lack of opportunity and I would urge all sports to look at the possibilities a programme like this provides for students and provide the funding to ensure this can be replicated all over the country.
Full gallery below: