EDF launches Community Rowing Challenge

Official London 2012 sponsor EDF launched the Community Rowing Challenge today (February 10th), inviting five East London schools to train for a special indoor rowing race at Eton Dorney in May.

Pupils from Cardinal Pole School, Connaught School for Girls, Royal Liberty School, Stepney Green School and Palmer Catholic Academy have been selected to take on the challenge, and were invited to a launch event at the London Eye.

London Youth Rowing (LYR) coaches will take the pupils through their paces over the coming three months before the crews do battle at the Community Rowing Challenge final on May 1st – which will be attended by Olympic legend Sir Steve Redgrave.

British Rowing officials and Olympic gold medallist Jean-Christophe Rolland joined EDF at the launch event in central London, to witness a five-minute relay on indoor rowing machines between the excitable school crews.

Each school’s LYR coach also took part in the relay – narrowly won by Royal Liberty School – and the East London Charity’s chairman Jim Downing expressed his delight to be a part of the Community Rowing Challenge.

‘When EDF came along with this particular challenge, we were really excited because this is an organisation that is all about trying to break the mould and give young people opportunities,’ he said.

‘We are delighted to be a part of this, and we can see great potential in all the competitors.’

Jean-Christophe Rolland – who won gold in the men’s coxless pair at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games – gave an inspirational speech to start the launch event, offering some valuable advice to the aspiring rowers.

‘Rowing is a physical sport which requires you to improve your physical capacities, but it’s not all about physical skills,’ he said. ‘You may be the strongest and you may have the strongest individuals in your team, but that won’t necessarily make you the most successful team.

‘What I would like to say to you today is “do your best, work hard and most of all enjoy it’. Whatever the results, your parents, your teachers, your coaches, your school, and your friends will all be proud of you.’

EDF have working in partnership with British Rowing and LYR to organise the Community Rowing Challenge, and the company’s Olympic & Paralympic Programme Director Gareth Wynn believes that the one-off event can make a real difference to the pupils taking part.

‘You’re learning to work as teams, and you’re learning to show the discipline that you need to do whatever you choose to do in life,’ he told the assembled pupils.

‘We’re trying to use our sponsorship of the London 2012 Olympic Games as a way to inspire young people. We’ve found brilliant partners in London Youth Rowing, we’ve had brilliant support from British Rowing, and I look forward to seeing everyone compete in the final on May 1st.’

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