THE North-East’s top rowers will be showcasing their talents in front of the Great Britain coaches this afternoon as the region challenges the south’s grip on one of the country’s leading Olympic sports.
Olympic hopefuls – for both Beijing 2008 and London 2012 – will be on show when Durham’s Maiden Castle hosts the North-East Indoor Rowing Championships this afternoon.
With the times counting towards national selection, coaches Peter Shepherd and Richards Bolton will be casting an eye over the 300 competitors.
The majority will come from the universities of Newcastle and Durham and Durham’s coach, Wade Hall-Craggs, believes the rivalry between the pair is furthering the region’s reputation. “We’re attracting as better and better quality of athletes at Durham and Newcastle are as well,” he said. “I think the rivalry can only help to keep people on their toes.
“It’s quite easy in this part of the country to feel isolated, especially in rowing. But the national governing body, the ARA, has recognised we are producing Olympians. Two thirds of the people who row are in the south-east. We’re an outpost that’s still producing the goods and we’d like to be rivaling the south-east in terms of quality, if not quantity.” The event, which is free to members of the public, starts at 1pm. The main races take place between 4.20pm and 5.20pm, with the team relays at 6.30pm.
One of the leading oarsmen on show will be Seb Kouba. The Durham student will be aiming to record a sub-six minute time, which would be an impressive achievement from someone who only took up the sport when he joined the university last year.
The strength of the two universities was recently demonstrated at the Tyne Rowing Club’s annual Rutherford Head race and the British Universities’ Small Boats Head. Durham had the fastest eight and Newcastle were second to Durham in division one of the coxed fours.