NZ crews benefit from Southland training scheme

In the space of four weeks, 14 Southlanders will have, will start to, or have been re-selected to compete on the international rowing scene.

Most recently the New Zealand under-23 rowing team performed spectacularly in Linz, Austria, with the team containing two young Southland rowers making their mark in their first year in the team.

Kristen Froude and Lisa Owen won bronze medals in their respective women's four and lightweight double events, which are two of the five medals earned by the seven crews in attendance.

These results show the development opportunities the Southland Rowing Association has provided in the past six years continue to grow athletes and ready them for the step up to regional, national and international competition.

As past participants in the ILT Foundation winter training programme administered by Rowing Southland, the bronze medals cap years of hard work and commitment for the duo, though both Froude and Owen have had very different routes into the NZ under-23 team.

Froude competed in the Australian Youth Olympic Festival (for athletes under 20 years of age) earlier this year while Owen has been a regular NZ Universities trans-Tasman team member.

Following along in the university rowing scene and coming from the same winter training programme in recent years are four rowers originating from Southland but training and competing in Otago University colours while studying over the winter.

Morgan Shepherd is taking a similar line to Owen, competing against the Australian University trans-Tasman lightweight quad in Adelaide last month, and along with university women's eight stroke, Jessica Hayes, swept the regatta course clean with the Australian crews.

T J Leeming, a past Waihopai Rowing Club member, also managed the trio of wins against the Australian lightweight four while Mark O'Connor in the men's university eight managed to retrieve one race from three against their green and gold equivalents.

Another recent competitor on Australian waters and repeat NZ under-21 representative, Tessa Young, was joined this year by fellow former James Hargest College crew mate Katelyn Froude in the Rusty Robertson Trophy regatta at Penrith Lakes.

Froude was a member of the second under-21 pair combination, while Young again held one of two singles spots in the team.

The duo combined into a four and quad respectively and then into an eight to place one hand on the trophy leading into the return regatta at Lake Karapiro in September.

To add to the above eight representative rowers, there are five recently re-selected into New Zealand Rowing's elite team to compete in the Chungyu, South Korea, Elite World Championships at the end of August.

Another to come through the winter training programme, Hayden Cohen, retains his spot with older brother Nathan, in the men's elite quad. Genevieve Behrent is looking forward to regaining the pace that saw her women's elite eight win in July's Hollandbeker regatta in Amsterdam over a better rated Canadian women's eight.

Louise Ayling will also seek to retain her form from Amsterdam, where she won the lightweight single scull and which saw her place sixth in a tight finish at the last World Cup regatta in Lucerne.

Yet to find their form, the men's elite four has Jade Uru in the stroke seat in an attempt to use his five years' experience in that boat after placing fifth in the B final in Lucerne last month.

The only Southlander yet to compete in the 2013 international rowing season is coach of the junior women's quad, John O'Connor.

With a bronze in the event from last year and one crew member returning this year, he is hopeful the two months of preparation on Lake Karapiro will see the crew peak coming into the Junior World Championships in Trakai, Lithuania starting next week.

The Southland Times