Rowing ‘Start’ Academy Launched at Hartpury College

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The Rowing ‘Start’ Academy has been officially launched at Hartpury College, in conjunction with the GB Rowing Team Start programme and Gloucester Rowing Club. The Rowing ‘Start’ Academy is the seventh sporting academy established at Hartpury and will build on its national reputation for sporting excellence.

The College welcomed special guests David Tanner CBE, the GB Rowing Team Performance Director and Steve Gunn, the GB Rowing Team Start Programme Manager to formally open the new Academy.

The launch was opened by Vice Principal, Further Education Luke Rake who warmly welcomed local dignitaries and honoured guests to the College.  Speaking at the event, Matt Birch, Hartpury College Director of Sport said: “Hartpury is committed to providing extensive educational opportunities for students, while at the same time supporting elite sport.  The launch of this our seventh sporting academy provides athletes with not only the infrastructure, but also the opportunity to progress to an elite level in rowing.” 

David Tanner, GB Rowing Team Performance Director, said of the launch: “GB Rowing is looking for rowers for the next Olympiad with the road to Rio in mind. It’s a first for us to combine with a College in this way, particularly one which is so motivated toward sport and I congratulate Hartpury on such an excellent initiative where sport is closely tied in to 16-18 education, which allows us to combine a top level rowing programme with looking after the educational needs of these potential rowers – which is really important.”

Tony Markey, representing Gloucester Rowing Club as its project champion said: “As a local rowing club it’s such as privilege to be associated with the ‘Start’ programme.  As a club we have substantial plans to develop our facilities and provide a centre of excellence which can serve the whole community. We are hopeful that by working together with our partners we can produce some great results.”

The Rowing ‘Start’ Academy, the first of its kind in the UK, is open to students studying A levels, BTEC Diplomas or degree programmes at Hartpury College and alongside their academic studies will receive training, coaching and development in the sport. Athletes will have access to a full-time rowing coach and a range of world class sporting facilities, as well as full membership and use of the facilities at Gloucester Rowing Club.

Academy athletes will also form part of the GB Rowing Team Start programme, which is a unique talent identification and development initiative, which aims to recruit and develop Olympic rowers. The majority of the recruits onto the programme will never have rowed before, but show the physical potential to reach the highest levels of the sport. Currently there are five athletes in the Hartpury Rowing ‘Start’ Academy, all of whom were selected via the UK Sport ‘Tall and Talented’ programme.

Hartpury’s Rowing Coach Tom Pattichis said: “I am proud and excited to be a part of the new Rowing ‘Start’ Academy and I am very much looking forward to working with the athletes through the development programme. This is a fantastic opportunity for aspiring rowers to develop their skills and work towards a very real goal – selection for the GB Olympic Rowing team for Rio in 2016.”

Commenting on the benefits of the Rowing ‘Start’ Academy at the College Steve Gunn, GB Rowing Team Start Programme Manager, said: “Hartpury offers the GB Rowing Team a real opportunity to link up our best young athletes, who don’t happen to live near a ‘Start’ centre, with a professional coach in a genuine high performance environment.”

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