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Local rowers in NZ u19 team

ROWING

ROWERS Oscar Ruston and Sacha Dewancker have been named in the New Zealand under-19 rowing team.

Dewancker was selected for the men’s eight while Ruston was selected for the men’s double, who also act as the reserves for the men’s eight.

The duo made a statement at this year’s Maadi Cup, with both paddlers making three A finals at the regatta.

Ruston cruised to victory in the u18 single sculls ahead of Dewancker, who finished fourth, before the duo combined to finish second in the u18 double sculls and fourth in the u18 coxless pair oars.

Before the trials, Gisborne Rowing Club assistant coach Peter Simmons said that Ruston had been winning recent single scull races by large margins and he would be surprised if he wasn’t selected for the New Zealand team.

Dewancker has been rowing for four years, picking it up after he stopped sailing and his mother wanted him to pick up another sport.

“I was bored watching TV on a Sunday morning,” he said. “The rowing was on TV and I thought it looked cool.”

He said it was always a dream of his to wear the silver fern, but he thought it wasn’t realistic before being selected.

In his first season, he and Ruston had struggled to find form but then they started training together, and their competitiveness helped them excel.

“We’re good mates, pushing each other all the time. We ended up being so strong.”

The duo have lost only one double scull race in the past two years, their second-place finish at Maadi Cup.

Dewancker has just returned from the team’s first training camp, held over the long weekend at Lake Karapiro.

He said it had been a great experience to be part of the high-performance camp, despite their inability to travel and compete.

“They gave a taste of what it’s like training hard every day. We were training like the guys going to the Olympics.”

Dewancker has been in New Zealand for three years, having come here from his native France to study and learn English. He wanted to thank all of the people who had supported him on his journey so far from family and home, particularly Peter and Cindy Fussell.

PRACTICE ON THE RIVER: New Zealand under-19 rowers Sacha Dewancker (left) and Oscar Ruston.
New Zealand under-19 Rowers: Oscar Ruston (left) and Sacha Dewancker have been selected for the men’s double and the men’s eight respectively. Pictures by Liam Clayton