New facilities key to match rowing's growth
Interest in rowing is soaring in Canterbury after the success of New Zealand's Olympic rowers, but damaged facilities may hamper growth.
Canterbury Rowing regional manager John Wylie said it was an "exciting time" for rowing in the region.
"We've got some high- performing rowers in development doing well on the world stage," he said.
At the junior world rowing championships in Bulgaria last Saturday, Christ's College pupil Sam Bosworth won a gold medal as the cox in the junior men's four, while Christchurch girls Sophie Shingleton and Holly Greenslade were one half of the girls' quad team that won bronze.
Wylie expected rowing in New Zealand would grow in coming years but said the future of Canterbury rowing depended largely on whether a new facility would be built.
The rowing facilities at Kerrs Reach were "devastated" in the February 22, 2011, earthquake but it had been proposed a new international water facility could be built on the Avon River.
"We have 750 rowers in Christchurch at the moment but we think we could grow that to 1500," he said.
"There are already schools waiting in the wings ready to get into rowing. We haven't really had the opportunity to grow the sport because of the size difficulties at Kerrs Reach, but this facility would give us room to grow and incorporate everyone who wants to get into rowing."
A $576,000 earthquake grant has funded three new sheds at Kerrs Reach on the Avon and one at Stewarts Gully on the Waimakariri River to ease congestion.
The facilities are expected to be ready for the new season next month but are temporary until 2016.
Wylie thought the performance of New Zealand's Olympic rowers would inspire others to join the sport.
"We're ranked No 2 on the world stage now, second to the United Kingdom. That's a high profile," he said.
"We have had a lot of calls and emails, but it's not the sort of thing where you just go down to the gym and hop on a rowing machine. It's a commitment, not an impulse decision. We think by term four there will be a lot of interest."
The New Zealand rowers' performance at the London Olympic Games did not just inspire people to join the sport, but provided motivation for those competing.
Bosworth and his team kept a keen eye on the Games and used them to prepare for their race.
"It was an awesome performance from all the athletes," he said.
He has been rowing for four years and had dreamt of winning a gold medal since he was selected for the team.
"We were determined to win and after the intensive two-month training programme at Lake Karapiro, which was so well run by our coach, Bruce Jones, and Rowing New Zealand, we knew we could win," he said.