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Record numbers of School Pathway Eights take to the water in Penrith

The 2016 Underage National Selection Trials began this week in Penrith, New South Wales with athletes across the country descending upon the Sydney International Regatta Centre in a bid to gain selection for the either the 2016 Junior, U21 or U23 Australian Rowing Team.

A regular occurrence over the last four years has been the Pathway Eights, which feature outstanding male and female School-aged Coxed Eights from across the country competing in a bid to be considered alongside other underage athletes for the Junior Australian Rowing Team, should they meet the performance standards set by the Selectors.

National Talent Pathway Manager, Barnaby Eaton said: “The Pathway Eights are made up from outstanding school athletes from across the country representing their States at the trials here. We are really excited by the number and quality of athletes competing in the group and we believe we’re seeing the Olympians of the future racing here in Penrith this week.

“We have eight female crews and seven male crews here this week, including crews from Western Australia, South Australia, Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland, plus we have a composite crew with athletes from Tasmania, WA and the ACT in it, which means every Member Association is represented in the Pathway Eights event this week, which is fantastic.”

Each State selects their very best school rowers to compete in the event, and can send up to two crews in the male and female category to compete at the trials.

“Another great thing to see is so many schools represented. For example, Queensland has seven GPS schools and every single one is represented in the Pathway Eight crews entered by the State,” added Eaton.

In addition to the Pathway Eights racing taking place this week, the Junior, U21 and U23 trials are taking place over the coming days, with small boat racing starting proceedings.

“In the coming days the U21 and U23 athletes that were invited to trials based on their performances at the 2016 Sydney International Rowing Regatta last month, will race in small boats. Based on those performances, the selectors will look to build the fastest combinations and subject to those crews meeting the performance standards, selecting the best crews to compete either at the 2016 World Rowing Championships or in the Trans-Tasman Regatta.

“The Junior athletes will go through a similar process this week, where we also look to build crews, subject to performance standards. Where possible, we look to select crews or athletes based in the same State, in order for them to train together and so as to not disrupt their schooling ahead of the World Championships in Rotterdam later this year,” explained Eaton.

In addition to these trials, the US-based Australian U23 athletes have been invited to trial in June for the U23 Australian Rowing Team to potentially create more crews, alongside those selected this month, subject to them meeting performance standards. The trials in June form part of a large racing camp which will feature Junior and U21 crews as well as crews from New Zealand who are over competing for the Trans-Tasman Regatta.