Stratford Juniors shine once more at the BritishRowing Indoor Championships on Saturday. Held at the Velodrome in the iconic Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, the annual event sees athletes aged from 11 to 80 years plus competing alongside individual entrants, club rowers, Team GB and Olympians.
First into the arena was Nixie Brunt in the Year 11 Girls’ six minute event. A very strong field, taken from some of the best known clubs in the country, made for good racing with Nixie starting off confidently to lead the race. Relentless opposition as the finish neared saw her finally place thirteenth from a field of fifty nine contestants with a distance of 1,573m.
The next race saw Sophie Elstone competing in the Year 10 Girls’ five minute event, with a field of ninety four rowers including the current U16 World Indoor Champion. With so many entrants the race was held in three heats, Sophie being in the first. Keeping calmly to her plan she kept a commanding and clear lead throughout to win her heat with little opposition. With the distances tallied at the completion of the third heat, Sophie finished in seventh position overall with a distance of 1326m, only 24m from the medals.
The velodrome crowd had now increased to maximum and next to walk up the ramp to be greeted by the collective cheers, were Harriet Noyes and Millie Hodgson, competing in the Year 8 Girls’ 500m event. Both started strongly with Harriet advancing up the field to establish an early lead, with Millie pushing through settling in the top third. Showing exceptional control in her first competitive rowing event, Harriet held on against strong competition from well established clubs, finishing a clear five seconds from her closest opposition to win the Gold medal in a time of 1:48. Millie maintained her position to finish ninth in the group of twenty four in 1:57, only two seconds from a medal place.
A three hour break between events allowed Harriet to recover and prepare for the Year 8 Girls’ three minute event. More exciting racing was to come. Facing the current World Record holder, Noyes once again kept control and showing great physical and mental strength held her own during a tough three minutes to finish in a well deserved Bronze medal position with 787m.
The Stratford Juniors’ final events saw Nixie in the Year 11 Girls’ 500m event, with Sophie Elstone and Harriet Hodgson in the Year 10 Girls’ 500m. Taking to their machines on the floor at the same time, in different areas of the arena, the girls faced determined opposition in a sprint event that drains energy in a most extraordinarily short time. Support from all sections of the crowd for every rower was deafening as the large screens constantly displayed their ever changing positions. The races were quickly over and the drained and exhausted athletes awaited their placings, the heats having to be taken into account. Finally the results were announced, with Nixie finishing in Bronze medal position in 1:39, amazingly only 0.9 of a second behind the winner. In the Year 10 event, Sophie finished fourth in 1:44, one second behind Bronze place, with Harriet H in seventeenth place with a time of 1:49, six seconds from the medals.
Said coach Trevor Tiller, “Another great day for the Stratford upon Avon Boat Club Juniors at the world’s biggest indoor rowing event and Britain’s biggest mass-participation indoor sporting event. For Harriet Noyes to win Gold and Bronze medals and become a British Champion at her first competitive eventis an amazing achievement and shows great promise for the future. The fantastic results from each of our rowers and the performances overall showthat Stratford Boat Club remains a club to keep an eye on.”
Meanwhile, in the senior events, Sophie’s grandfather Andrew Elstone raced in the first event of the day, the Masters 65-69 2000m, finishing fifth in his age group, fourteen seconds from the medals with a time of 7:26. Later, Harriet’s father Ed Hodgson, competing against members of the GB Rowing Team in the Open Men’s 2000m, finished only sixty two seconds from the medals in a time of 6:49. Commented Trevor Tiller, “Great performances from both, now to get them on thewater!”
For media coverage, see Stratford Observer online https://stratfordobserver.co.uk/sport/stratford-juniors-shine-once-more-at-british-rowing-indoor-championships and Stratford Herald page 18 and 17