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Olympics spark new demand for rowing
MEMBERS of Abingdon Rowing Club loved watching Team GB rowers compete in the Olympics and come away with a haul of medals.
And they have been inundated with youngsters who want the chance of one day emulating their heroes who triumphed at the London 2012 Games.
Now club coordinators are appealing for volunteer coaches to help them train a new intake at the clubhouse in Wilsham Road.
Dan Knowles, who trains junior rowers aged 12 to 18, said: “The GB rowing squad did brilliantly at the Olympics but the effect has meant that we have a lot of young people who would like to join the club.
“We have got plenty of boats and plenty of space on the river, but we need more coaches. We now have 43 people on the waiting list aged from 12 to 16 – 21 boys and 22 girls.
“At the moment we have 26 active juniors in our squad, split into two groups based on age.
“We need coaches for all three squads – junior, men’s and women’s – who are able to commit time consistently, ideally for two or more sessions a week, at weekends and after work.
“I keep getting new inquiries every day, and at the moment, they are from children at state schools.
“We are getting twice the number of inquiries we were getting before the Olympics and we could easily have 100 juniors on the waiting list before Christmas.
“Something that I’m keen to stress is that the sport is for all and we’re proud of the opportunity we give to children who don’t have the opportunity to row at their school.
“We are entirely run by volunteers and the options are either to find more volunteer coaches, or receive sponsorship so we can employ a paid coach.”
The club, which was formed in 1958, received a £50,000 Sport England grant in July to revamp its clubhouse.
The grant means there will soon be a dedicated area for people to train with lighting and heating.
The new facility will include a weights area, indoor rowing machines and floor space for circuit training.
Tonia Harris, from Northcourt Road, Abingdon, contacted the club to see if her daughter Katharine, 11, could join the juniors.
Mrs Harris said: “Katharine was inspired by rowers Helen Glover and Heather Stanning, who won gold medals at London 2012.
“She is just about to start at Larkmead School and would love to get involved in the sport.”
Katharine added: “I want to do rowing because I want to keep fit and rowing on the Thames would be lovely.
“Helen Glover really inspired me.”
Nine GB rowing crews won medals at the Olympics – four gold, two silver and three bronze.