Inspiring trip for North East rowers

NE rowers with Tony Blair and Lord Coe

On Monday 18 July, four county winners from British Rowing’s North East indoor schools rowing events were invited by the Tony Blair Sports Foundation to visit the Olympic village in Stratford, London.

The four rowers, who were picked for their achievements at the indoor events, had a once in lifetime experience with a tour of the site where many of the facilities were in the final stages of work.

Ex Prime Minister Tony Blair and Chair of London 2012 and Olympic Gold medallist Lord Sebastian Coe gave the children and coaches from the North East a personal tour of the Olympic Stadium, to highlight the inspiration the Games will provide, and showcase the work being undertaken to ensure the delivery of a sporting legacy for the region.

The lucky rowers were:

Amy McCarthy (Kingsmeadow School, Gateshead representing Tyne & Wear), who lost her Year 8 record distance to Millie Dickinson this year, set a new record herself in March achieving a massive 1059m, 58m better than the previous best, and 103.8% Olympic Gold Medal time. Amy also boasts a Silver Medal from the National Junior Indoor Rowing Championships (NJIRC) held in 2010. Amy rows on machines that were donated to her school by TBSF.

Millie Dickinson (Hexham Middle School representing Northumberland) who set a new Championship record at the Get Going Get Rowing (GGGR) Final this year beating Amy McCarthy’s previous distance by 34m, rowing 785m in 3 minutes.  This represents 104.7% Olympic Gold Medal Time for her age.

James Coupland (Oakfields Community College, Middlesbrough representing Tees Valley) started rowing as a result of the investment from the Steve Redgrave Fund which placed machines in all the secondary schools in Middlesbrough. He achieved a Bronze Medal at the GGGR Grand Final breaking his previous personal best by 35 metres and was the most successful Tees Valley competitor in 2010/11.

Dan Pearson (New College, Durham representing County Durham) who achieved an impressive 06:28 minutes to win his 2000m race at the GGGR Regional Final in March, this represents 108.1% Olympic Gold Medal Time. Along with his partner Myles Holbrough (who finished in the silver medal position), Dan won the Junior Coxless Pairs at the British Rowing Championships in 2010 and has been selected in the England Eight for the Home Countries Regatta on 23rd July, 2011.

Just last month Tony Blair launched the Sports Foundation’s ‘Coaches for Clubs’ campaign with a tour of grassroots sports clubs across the North East.  This has now received the Inspire mark from London 2012.

The campaign sees the Foundation team up with school and sports clubs across the North East to inspire people to become volunteers, coaches and officials in the communities that need them most.

Tony Blair said: “I am delighted to be able to bring our Tony Blair Sports Foundation competition winners and some of their coaches to the Olympic Park today – and what better way to see it than to get a tour from such an inspirational athlete as Seb Coe. It is also fantastic to see the amazing job Seb and the whole 2012 team have done to get the games ready on time and on budget.”

The TBSF and British Rowing work closely in the North East organising the GGGR Indoor Rowing competitions for schools.  There are plans to expand the scheme this year to include two adaptive Indoor events which will also lead to the North East regional final. The TBSF also helps  in the funding of coaches to go on coaching courses in the North East as well as providing assistance for volunteers in rowing and other sports.