Lee Valley stages successful indoor junior rowing championship

Left to right: Molly Harding, Annabel Chaffey, Kyle Powell and Viddal Riley at the national junior i

Left to right: Molly Harding, Annabel Chaffey, Kyle Powell and Viddal Riley at the national junior indoor rowing championships at Lee Valley. - Credit: Archant

Lee Valley Athletic Centre hosted the ninth national junior indoor championships on Friday, with over 2,700 entrants competing to claim the furthest distance on an indoor rowing machine.

The free event hosted participants aged 11-18 who had travelled the length and breadth of the country – from as far afield as Bournemouth and the Isle of Wight – all sharing the collective goal of hoping to secure a winning place on behalf of their school or club.

Co-organisers London Youth Rowing, who work with nearly 11,000 young people in London each year, were delighted to see so many newcomers enticed by the sport.

Matt Rostron, chief executive of London Youth Rowing, said: “When we started, we never dreamt of the scope of people that would benefit from attending a national event like this.

“Nine years on, to have an event of this size which enables the young people from Hackney and the surrounding boroughs to compete at the very highest levels is a great opportunity for them and a great thing for us to be able to do.”

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London Youth Rowing co-hosted what remains the largest indoor rowing event in the world alongside the Boat Race Company, and both the men and women’s squads of the Oxford Cambridge Rowing Foundation were present.

Those two crews are set to compete together on the tideway for the first time this year on Saturday April 11, but Friday’s focus was very much on the stars of the future.

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Molly Harding, a 17 year-old rower from High Wycombe and gold medallist at last year’s national schools regatta, was present at Lee Valley, alongside Kyle Powell, who won a silver medal in the 100m and 200m IWAS World Junior Games.

Also in attendance was 16-year-old bobsleigh athlete Annabel Chaffey from Berkshire (a gold medallist at the Omega FIBT Youth Monobob Series event in St Moritz in February 2015), and 17-year-old Hackney boxer and Youth Olympics semi-finalist Viddal Riley, who is a current national champion at 81kg.

All four GB athletes were joined by several others – including London 2012 gold medallist Tim Baillie and Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson – as well as a large contingent of the Met Police who volunteered on the day and engaged with local youth.

London Youth Rowing is committed to equal access into the sport for all young people, regardless of their background. Fifth-three per cent of competitors were female and 48 per cent came from a black, Asian, and minority ethnic (BME) background.

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