STRATFORD-upon-Avon Boat Club’s adaptive section sent a total of 15 athletes, helpers and coaches over to Turin, Italy to compete in Armida Rowing Club’s 16th annual celebration of para-rowing.
The two-day event attracted entries from several countries including Portugal and the United Kingdom, however, some foreign crews were unable to attend due to an air traffic control strike in Italy.
Despite this, some 150 athletes were still able to take part across two days of racing.
Canottieri Armida (Armida Rowing Club) is the premier adaptive club in Italy and their commitment has been rewarded with excellent results, medals and para-rowers who have gone on to represent Italy.
Mark Dewdney, Stratford’s Head Adaptive Coach said “They have been running a squad for over 20 years compared with our seven years.
“We are the biggest in the UK with nearly 20 athletes – Armida have 80 athletes.
“Their adaptive team is just part of the club fabric, they focus on those with learning difficulties. You can see these athletes are treated with respect and understanding, they are happy and comfortable in their environment.
“It is inspirational, we can learn much from them. There are a few areas, I think, where the reverse is also true!”
Both clubs are working on an integrated mixed ability approach to rowing which would involve able-bodied athletes and those with a disability training, racing and enjoying the sport together.
Dewdney added: “Much of the racing was club versus club but towards the end we mixed everyone up in fours and eights. People with different issues and from different countries racing together, it was great fun!
“We hope to be going back next October. The squad is now back home on the Avon, we hope the weather is kind for a little while yet before the winter bites.”
Paul Stanton, Stratford Boat Club’s President said: “The welcome that Armida gave our rowers, coaches and helpers shows the international spirit that is so evident in the rowing community.
“We can learn a lot from their example. Mark Dewdney, our Head Adaptive Coach, presented Armida with a special trophy marking our thanks and lasting friendship.”