Yaxley included in junior trials

SARAH HAMILTON
Last updated 05:00 02/04/2014

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With the domestic rowing season drawing to a close and the international season beginning in Sydney last weekend, New Zealand Rowing is moving to select the next tier of rowers into its junior crews for July's World Championships.

One Southlander has the chance to put himself into one of the crews at the Easter trials after being selected along with 27 other hopefuls.

Tim Yaxley started rowing as a year 10 pupil at Southland Boys High School.

Under the tutelage of long-time coach Peter Sinclair, the string-bean Yaxley showed determination and guts right from the word go.

That guts saw Yaxley through to last week's Maadi Cup under-18 boys single final to become one of the top eight scullers in school rowing.

His fifth place performance, combined with a seventh placing in the U18 double with Josh Hayes, has seen Yaxley's name included in Rowing NZ's junior trial list.

''I aimed to make the top four [of the single] and changed my race plan to try get an early lead on the field because they are all really good. I just had to try something. It was good to make the double A final too''.

Yaxley is obviously pleased by his selection in the junior trials.

''I was thrilled. It's been my goal for a long time''.

The trials are in three weeks' time at Lake Karapiro, where Yaxley has competed recently with Waihopai Rowing Club and as part of the South Island U18 team last year.

Yaxley knows he will have to stand out to make a junior crew.

''There is lots of guys I've raced against, and with, at regattas. I'm planning on training hard for the next three weeks,'' he said.

The Southland Academy athlete will look to the academy for assistance with planning for and getting through the trial.

''South Island trials last year gave me a good idea of what to expect. The fittest and the strongest will get there.''

Along with the many medals to come out of the New Zealand Secondary School Championships last week, a life membership was bestowed on long-time organiser, official, chief umpire and coach John O'Connor, by the NZ Secondary Schools Rowing Association (NZSSRA).

O'Connor's involvement with school level rowing goes hand in hand with his passion for developing talented youngsters into future elite champions through coaching over the last 30 years.

O'Connor was on on the NZSSRA executive from 1986 to 2003 - seven years as president.

He has been a race official at numerous NZSSRA Championships, chief umpire at four of the past five South Island Secondary School regattas, and Chief Umpire at Maadi Cup 2012.

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At a national level his roles have included youth commissioner on the Rowing NZ board from 2006-2011 and a Rowing NZ Junior crew coach in 2012 and 2013.

Long-time rowing cohort Peter Sinclair was present at the NZSSRA meeting where the life membership was conferred and said that there was unanimous support for the nomination to be passed.

''John's input into school rowing and rowing in general is unconditional,'' Sincalir said.

''He promotes and acts for the betterment of the sport in everything he does''.

O'Connor said he was surprised and honoured by the award.

''My formal association ended when I stepped down as president in 2003 but it seems my service as an official and coach at junior level has been appreciated.''

- The Southland Times

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