Oxford University Women’s Lightweight Rowing Club’s (OUWLRC) quad become European Universities Champions, at the EUSA Games in Rotterdam on Friday 1st August.
This outstanding achievement at an elite level of competition came off the back of the quad’s silver medal at the BUCS Regatta in May, which led to their selection to race for Great Britain.
The team is comprised of (left to right in above photo) Becky Lane (Jesus College), Sophie Philbrick (Somerville), Ellie Backhouse (LMH) and Sarah Robinson (New).
Following competing in different boat classes at Henley Women’s Regatta, the crew entered into a full-time training program under the guidance of Chris O’Hara, with valued support from Sarah Graham (nutritionist), Felipe (physiologist) and Pollyanna (masseur).
Setting off for Rotterdam on 28th July, the crew arrived and immediately began their final preparations on the water, at the Willem-Alexander Baan – a new, international standard, rowing facility.
The European Universities Games is the largest multi-sport student event in Europe, and sees elite student athletes compete for both their universities and countries.
A first taste of competition came on the 31st, in a race for lanes in which the crew, rowing in ‘Erchless Castle’, came a safe 2nd, knowing what was needed for the final. On each day of competition, the crew had to weigh in at an average of 57.0kg, with no individual over 59.0kg.
Friday’s final was at 12.30pm, with Oxford (GBR) taking lane 4. Similar to the previous day’s race, the quad had an early 4 second advantage over the other crews at the 500m mark, which they continued to extend, eventually finishing over 13 seconds ahead of Tilburg University (NED) in second place, and 36 seconds ahead of University of Heidelburg (GER) in third, in a final time of 06:56:42.
This dominating performance was all the more impressive as the time would have seen the crew win the heavyweight women’s quad in addition, and compared favourably to times recorded by crews at the recent U23 World Championships. The race was followed by a medal ceremony, a very large picnic, and celebrations with the rest of the GB team and other nations.
The experience has been a fantastic, if challenging, one for all the crew. Professionalism and commitment throughout was exemplary, and will no doubt stand the three returners (Becky, Ellie and Sarah) in good stead for the coming trialing season, for both OUWLRC and the GB Rowing Team.
Meanwhile, the championships saw outgoing president’s Sophie’s last race for the club, and we are all very thankful for her dedication and leadership. A final word must go to head coach, Chris, whose expertise in preparing the crew for competition was invaluable.
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- For more information on rowing for OUWLRC and to register your interest in trialing for 2015 please visit the OUWLRC website.
- Training officially begins on Wednesday 17 September 2014.
Pictures and story with thanks to OUWLRC.