Maadi Cup gets underway
2000 rowers from 112 schools to competeIAN ANDERSON
Merepaea Matthew is one of a kind.
More than 1200 rowers from 121 schools will compete at the Maadi Cup this week, but Merepaea is the only one from PioPio College slogging her way down the 2000-metre course at Lake Karapiro.
The 15-year-old today contested the girls' under-16 and u-17 single sculls heats despite not having the ideal buildup to the national secondary schools rowing regatta that runs until Saturday.
"I've been off training for two weeks," she said soon after her under-17 heat.
"A friend's mum passed away. Then I was really sick for about a week too, and that really held me back."
She still managed third place in her u-16 race, qualifying her for the quarterfinals of that event.
PioPio College has a storied rowing history, being the former school of the 2000 Olympic Games men's single sculls champion Rob Waddell, while Merepaea has been coxswain for a crew featuring rising Rowing NZ star Hannah Osborne.
She started while still in primary school, encouraged by older sister Ariana.
"She had a group of friends who found out about rowing and they told me how cool it was and how you could compete at these kind of events.
"She only rowed for a few years but their boat needed a coxswain so I tried it out and liked it."
A couple of seasons ago she decided to stop calling the action create it instead.
"I was getting too big - couldn't hold the muscles in any longer," she quipped.
Merepaea lives five kilometres out of Te Kuiti and trains in the single scull with the Te Awamutu Rowing Club but hasn't managed to find any potential crewmates at school.
"None of them feel obliged to join me," she laughed.
Now at her third Maadi Cup, Merepaea doesn't expect to finish the week with a medal but still has her goals.
"I just really want to try and get into an A final and be with the people who get the medals.
"I love it out here - but it makes it a lot better if you get into the finals."
Competitors from 112 schools are contesting the national secondary schools regatta, which runs til Saturday.
Hamilton Boys' High School have the most entrants with 72 rowers, while 13 schools are represented by just one rower. Today's programme began with heats and they will continue tomorrow.
Rep exchanges are on Wednesay, semifinals Thursday and the A finals being contested on Friday and Saturday.
- © Fairfax NZ News
Can the Magic win tonight in Hamilton?