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Para-Rowers shine at Head of the Yarra

At the end of November, Rowing Australia conducted a camp in Canberra for selected PR3 athletes from around the country to train and compete in a Mixed PR3 Eight. At the conclusion of the camp, the crew competed at the Head of the Yarra in Melbourne.

The crew performed exceptionally well in Melbourne, winning the Para Mixed Eight category and finishing fourth in the Mixed Eights Category (incorporating Masters A-C).

The athletes received outstanding support from the Australian Defence Force, being hosted for rowing activities by the ADF Rowing Facility in Yarralumla. The camp was a great opportunity to demonstrate the value of the strengthening links between the ADF and Rowing Australia. Both organisations are exploring opportunities to expand these relationships in the future on the back of such an activity that was of high mutual benefit.

Para-rowing Program Lead, Gordon Marcks said: “As a group, the athletes trained and raced well above expectation and we are very happy to see them learn through the experiences of the week.

“To be able to produce such a strong result in the regatta, eclipsing the winning 2016 para time by approximately four minutes was an absolute thrill for everyone. The week and competition opportunity will no doubt provide a solid platform on which to build as some of the athletes prepare for the 2018 Sydney International Regatta and National Team selections.”

South Australian, Jed Altschwager, competing in his first PR3 Mixed Coxed Eight, admitted he wanted to see what the whole experience would bring when he committed to being part of the crew for the week. “The culture was one of the main things for me heading over; I wanted to see how badly the others wanted it. Early on it became quite clear that everyone was here for the same reason. This did two things: assured me that these people have my back which is something a team needs, and that the level of rowing would be pushed, which was exiting.”

The crew was coxed by 2016 Rio Paralympic team coxswain, Jo Burnand, who admitted the crew had done a great job at Head of the Yarra. “I was really impressed with the way in which the squad worked together during the week – everyone contributed to the success of the camp, both on and off the water.

“It was fantastic to have the opportunity to compete in Melbourne at the end of the camp – for some of the crew, this iconic Australian rowing race was their first ever experience of competing in rowing. The whole crew did a great job,” said Burnand.

During the course of the camp, the Australian Defence Force Rowing Facility played host to the para-rowers, something which Major Gary Bergman was delighted to have happened. “The athletes were appreciative, gave us great feedback, and I feel certain that they have become ambassadors for the ADF,” said Major Bergman.