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Maadi Cup off but season a success

Gisborne rowers were shaping up nicely for Maadi Cup but Covid-19 has curtailed their season.

Gisborne rowers had a successful North Island Secondary Schools Championships behind them and were shaping up nicely for the Maadi Cup when coronavirus fallout curtailed their season.

The Maadi Cup is the pinnacle event for secondary-school rowers in New Zealand and this year's racing was to be held from March 30 at Lake Ruataniwha, Twizel, but it was one of many planned sports gatherings cancelled this week in an attempt to contain the Covid-19 virus.

That left many rowers, coaches and administrators reflecting on last weekend's North Island secondary schools event at Lake Karapiro as their final meet of 2019-20.

Gisborne rowers, whose coaching comes from the Gisborne Rowing Club, produced encouraging results.

Oscar Ruston, from Gisborne Boys' High School, won his under-17 boys' heat, semifinal and final in the single sculls.

He teamed up with Sacha Dewancker to win the u17 boys' double sculls.

Dewancker was seventh in the single sculls A Final.

The u17 coxed quad sculls crew from Boys' High were sixth and their u18 coxed four, seventh.

Hannah Veitch and Phoebe Naske, from Gisborne Girls' High School, were second in the u17 exhibition oars coxless pairs.

The GGHS u17 girls' coxed quad sculls crew came sixth, and the school's u18 coxed four and single-sculls competitor Sophie Lapointe made A Finals.

Luke Jenkins, Gisborne senior boys' rowing coach, said rowers were informed of the Maadi Cup's cancellation on Monday.

“They were upset . . . quiet . . . but understand what's going on,” he said.

“The success that we did get at the weekend was positive. We finished on a good high.”

The rowers had a benchmark from the North Island championships and had been putting in speed work to build up to the Maadi Cup.

Gisborne club president Rebecca Starr said the regatta's cancellation was “obviously a huge disappointment to our athletes and the coaching team”.

“They have all worked extremely hard to prepare for the ultimate event in the school rowing calendar, and to have the rug pulled out from under them at the last minute was a shock.

“More than a few tears have been shed . . . but obviously public health has to come first.”

Senior girls' coach Lewis Green said the North Island meet was considered a stepping stone to the Maadi Cup.

“The kids put an unbelievable amount into their training,” he said.

“I can't help but feel for them.”

They had eight sessions a week split across on-water training, rowing machines, gym sessions and running, he said.

For some competitors, it was their last season of school rowing.

Others will get another go next year or they can get back into rowing next summer for the next club season.

“I want to highlight how well all athletes at the club have done this season,” Green said.

He hoped a good number of rowers would “look towards the future and come back refreshed next season”.

Golden championships: Oscar Ruston won gold medals in the single sculls and double sculls in the North Island secondary schools rowing championships at Lake Karapiro last weekend. Picture by Steve McArthur/Rowing Celebration
Strong performance: Sacha Dewancker, left, teamed up with Oscar Ruston to win gold in the under-17 boys' double sculls. Picture by Steve McArthur/Rowing Celebration
Powerful pair: Hannah Veitch (left) and Phoebe Naske claimed a silver medal in the under-17 exhibition oars coxless pairs. Picture by Conrad Blind/Rowing.pictureshow