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LTA Mixed Coxed Four ready to take on Final Paralympic Qualification Regatta

Brock Ingram and Jeremy McGrath share their thoughts on upcoming event

Last week the Reinhold Batschi National Training Centre played host to the Australian Rowing Team’s Legs, Trunk and Arms Mixed Coxed Four as the crew prepared for the Final Paralympic Qualification Regatta.

The crew of Brock Ingram, Jeremy McGrath, Davinia Lefroy, Kate Murdoch and coxswain Jo Burnand trained on Lake Burley Griffin under the supervision of coaches Gordon Marcks and Tara Huntly before travelling to Milan this week ahead of the Regatta which is being held from 21-23 April in Gavirate, Italy.

Australia's LTA Mixed Coxed Four

Australia’s LTA Mixed Coxed Four

During their time in Italy the crew will be based at the Australian Institute of Sport’s European Training Centre just a short walk from the lake and the regatta itself. The crew must finish in the top two at the event in order to secure Australia’s Paralympic Team a berth at the 2016 Rio Paralympic Games. Australia has already qualified an Arms, Shoulders Men’s Single Scull and a Trunk and Arms Mixed Double Scull.

Making his debut in the team this year is West Australian, Brock Ingram. Ingram originally rowed at school before turning to para-canoe-kayak after a work accident saw him lose a finger and have partial use of his remaining three.

“I started rowing at the age of 13 when I was at school, and rowed all through school. I did one season after I finished Schoolboy rowing but then I stopped rowing to pursue other interests. This time around, I got into it again, in part, due to the fact I could no longer compete in canoe-kayak as a para-athlete.

“I had previously been training in a hope to qualify for Rio in kayaking but due to changes in my classification I could no longer kayak and rowing was a sport I hadn’t forgotten about so I returned to it and am really enjoying the opportunities it is providing me with.”

Ingram, who is a member of the West Australian Rowing Club says it is still a bit surreal to have been selected to row for Australia and try and qualify the boat for Rio. He said: “It’s a surreal opportunity to have been selected to row for Australia at the Final Paralympic Qualification Regatta. I would have never seen it coming two years ago and even six months ago it was so far out. We are really happy with the way the crew is going at the moment and looking forward to good things.”

The other male member of the crew is New South Welshman, Jeremy McGrath. The 21-year-old McGrath will turn 22 during the qualification regatta and is looking forward to competing in Gavirate. McGrath has competed for Australia twice before, once in the LTA Mixed Double Scull, in 2014 and last year in the LTA Mixed Coxed Four in Aiguebelette.

“It would be awesome to qualifying the four at the Final Paralympic Qualification Regatta, that’s what we’ve all been working towards, we’ve never had an Australian LTA Mixed Coxed Four go to the Paralympics, so I think that’s what everyone here has been pushing for.

‘The progress we’ve had in the last three years, from competing in the double, the four last year, which was the first to compete at a World Championships for Australia since, I think, 2009, it would be an awesome next step to take the sport forward for LTA para-rowing.”

The crew is split across the country, with Balmain Rowing Club being home to McGrath, while Kate Murdoch is based at Nepean Rowing Club, Jo Burnand at Mosman RC and Davina Lefroy joining Ingram at West Australian Rowing Club. The camp was seen as a really important aspect of the crew’s preparation ahead of travelling to Italy.

“When we’re at home in our respective home states, we focus on ourselves and our individual techniques, the time that we have together makes a really big difference, especially in crew rowing, you have to be in sync and balance with the rest of your crew that we really take it upon ourselves to make the most of the time we have together.

“It seems like we’re really getting a good reach in the boat this year, the boat speed has really picked up so it’s looking positive going forwards,” added McGrath.

RA will be putting up another story next week (18 April) featuring the female members of the crew – Davinia Lefroy, Kate Murdoch and Jo Burnand.