Rowing to boom in medals' wake
Waihopai Rowing Club president Terry Reeves predicts Southlanders Nathan Cohen and Storm Uru's Olympic medal-winning heroics will lead to a spike in interest in the sport this summer.
Uru became the second Southlander to win a medal in the space of 48 hours, when he claimed bronze in the lightweight double sculls with Peter Taylor on Saturday night.
He joins Cohen, who powered home over the final 500m to win gold in the double sculls, alongside partner Joseph Sullivan. Southland had never previously won an Olympic medal before these Games.
Reeves said it had been a brilliant last couple of days for both Southland and New Zealand rowing, with Kiwi crews picking up five medals in London.
"It's a proud moment for Southland rowing definitely," he said.
"All the rowers from Southland have done the province really proud. It's been awesome."
Uru's brother, Jade, and his men's four crew finished fifth in their B final, while Southland's other rowing representative at the Games, Louise Ayling, placed third in her lightweight doubles sculls women's B final.
Cohen began taking rowing seriously after watching Rob Waddell secure gold at the Sydney Olympics in 2000, and Reeves believed the feats of Cohen and Uru would have a similar effect in Southland.
"There's always been a large number of kids that come and give it a go. We're expecting there will be a surge," he said.
"They look up to these guys don't they? I'm sure they'll be a few. I've already had a few asking ‘What age do my kids need to be?"'
Reeves has known the Uru boys, who both row for the Waihopai club, since they were "wee nippers". Son Josh played age-group representative football for Southland with Storm, growing up.
He said Storm's life had been dominated by rowing over the past decade and was ecstatic all the hard work and sacrifice had paid off for him.
"He's pretty driven - both the boys are. You've got to be. There's a lot of commitment in rowing. Those boys chose their path and they've done everything they can [to be successful]."
Reeves hoped the achievements of the Southlanders in London showed young rowers in the region they could reach the top from Invercargill.
"We've always known we can do it from the Oreti River. We have regattas down here and people are always astounded by the facilities."
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