Champion oarsman's new outlook
Leading New Zealand rower Jade Uru has found inspiration and motivation from a chance meeting.
The Southland rower has developed an impressive record in the sport, winning a world under-23 gold medal in 2009 and a bronze medal at the 2010 world championships, and was regarded as one of the country's best sweep oarsman before switching to the sculling style recently.
But the former James Hargest College pupil is a champion off the water as well.
Heading for dinner, the Cambridge-based Uru spotted a blind woman standing in the rain waiting for a bus. He offered her a ride home, which she accepted.
The moment promoted some thinking and a decision to mix his rowing training with voluntary work at the Blind Foundation.
"I realised when I picked up that blind lady that maybe I should be doing more work for the Blind Foundation. I just said to her ‘Do you need a ride somewhere?' and she said ‘OK'. Mum thought that was a bit daring for her to get in my car without knowing who I was, but she was really nice and obviously knew I was genuine."
Uru said he had got plenty out of mixing his rowing training with his work with the blind.
"I worked at the Blind Foundation before Christmas, volunteering in my spare time and I really enjoyed that. I went for walks with them, hung out with them, took them around the High Performance Centre and went for a bike ride with them," he said.
"My sponsors didn't want me working because they wanted me to focus on my rowing, so I thought if I could give a bit back to the community instead of working that might be a good idea."
Uru has confirmed himself as a champion off the water and is keen to grab the same tag on it in the coming years.
He is in his first week back training with the entire New Zealand elite team as it eyes two world cup meetings and a world championship in Europe during the New Zealand winter.
He has switched from the four, which is a sweep boat, to the quad, a sculling discipline. In simple terms, rowers in a four use one oar each while in a quad they have two.
The Waihopai Rowing Club member thinks the quad could be his best shot at claiming the ultimate prize, a medal at the 2016 Olympics.
Jade's older brother, Storm, added another line to his already lengthy rowing CV when he was yesterday named in the prestigious Oxford University eights crew.
- The Southland Times