Today, members of the two crews that will compete in The BNY Mellon Boat Race in just over 2 weeks’ time took a break from training to support the young athletes competing in the London Youth Rowing National Junior Indoor Rowing Championships (NIJRC).
Part of the Olympic legacy initiative, over 2,500 11 to 18 year olds competed today at the Lee Valley Athletics Centre in London, just a stone’s throw from the London 2012 Olympic Park, in the world’s biggest indoor rowing event. NIJRC is organised by London Youth Rowing (LYR) – a sport charity that aims to develop young people through physical activity – and The Boat Race Company Ltd, with over 170 volunteers from local schools and businesses on-hand today to make sure everything ran smoothly.
The highlight of the day’s races were the boys’ and girls’ Boat Race relays, which involve the competing teams ‘rowing’ 6780 metres, the full distance of The Boat Race. The lucky winners will get the chance to be in one of the launches following The Boat Race on 31st March – a true ‘money can’t buy’ experience.
Members of both The BNY Mellon Boat Race crews, as well as famous Olympic faces from London 2012, were all there today to cheer the young competitors on, as well as take part in Q&A sessions and offer coaching tips. Katherine Grainger CBE, an LYR Trustee said “The size of entry we are seeing this year is just outstanding. I have to say, as Olympians we are very competitive – but these guys give us a run for our money. It’s great to see so many young athletes applying themselves to our sport. And who knows, we may see some of this talent competing in Rio 2016!” The Championships were run in a huge hall filled with 100 Concept2 rowing machines, all being ‘rowed’ simultaneously with loud music, meaning there was never a time when the race floor was quiet.
LYR’s Managing Director, Matt Rostron believes that NIJRC is central to the reason his organisation has been able to deliver a successful Olympic legacy – “This is the seventh year we’ve delivered NIJRC and for us it was about having a firmly established programme in place long before the Olympic Games arrived. With a big competition such as this for junior rowers to work towards, we are able to have a focus for all of the other programmes in our schools and clubs that run all year round. It puts us in a great position to be able to capitalise on the enthusiasm generated last summer.”
The idea for the Championships was conceived jointly by LYR and The Boat Race Company, and the inaugural NIJRC took place in 2007 with 800 competitors. Now more than triple its original size, the event is clearly thriving, and was also supported this year by Boat Race sponsor, BNY Mellon.
The Boat Race relay winners were:
Boys: Mossbourne Rowing Academy in a time of 19min 12.5 secs
Girls: Lea Rowing Club in a time of 22mins 06.5 secs
The 2013 BNY Mellon Boat Race will take place on 31st March 2013. The Newton Women’s Boat Race will be raced at Henley a week earlier, on 24th March.