STRATFORD Boat Club rowers starred when they were invited for the first time to join Royal Grammar School Worcester and Worcester Rowing Club as guests of King’s School Worcester’s annual indoor rowing competition.
First up was the WJ14 individual four-minute event in which Stratford’s Freya Watts, Lucy Browne, Fleur Griffiths and Anne Mynors all competed.
Griffiths set out hard and led for more than two minutes until a very strong girl from King’s pushed on past. Watts, having maintained a steady pace throughout, managed to finish in the silver medal position having made it to 988m.
Browne took the bronze medal ahead of Griffiths in the very last stroke of the race with a distance of 968m. Griffiths finished fourth having completed 965m and Mynors was a very respectable eighth out of 15 competitors with 910m.
The individual timed events continued with the WJ15 five-minute race in which Emma Harrison, Martha Usselmann and Sophie Elstone raced side by side.
The bank of claret tops saw a determined start by Elstone who put herself in a commanding position, with Usselmann and Harrison following her lead.
Elstone settled nicely during the middle of the race, with Usselmann constantly jostling between third and fourth place and Harrison closing.
After a final minute of determined pushing, Elstone finished in gold medal position – a clear 80m ahead of her closest rival – with Usselmann and Harrison both gaining fresh personal bests in a close fourth and seventh positions respectively from a field of 13.
Representing the Stratford Boat Club participation group was Charlotte Johnson in the WJ16 individual six-minute event. She was up against a field including five rowers from the hosts King’s School.
Despite limited preparation leading up to the event, Johnson finished in fifth position with a personal best of 1,400m – missing out on a podium finish by a mere 38m.
Then came the turn of Bella Chappelhow and Honour Keil in the WJ14 individual 500m event. This was strongly contested between the two Stratford girls, with the three King’s girls making up the other three places.
Both Stratford girls had extremely good rows, with Chappelhow taking the gold medal in a time of 1:48.9 and Keil just 0.8 of a second behind in taking the silver. The bronze medal was won in a time ten seconds slower than Keil.
Harriet Hodgson impressed for the J15s in the year ten 500m event as a fast and furious race from the off with tough competition from the hosts saw Hodgson at her finest.
Maintaining a strong position throughout, the final pushes saw Hodgson finishing in a time of 1:48 to ensure a place on the podium in silver medal position.
Then it was time for the relay races. First up were the WJ14 relays raced over 2,000m and Chappelhow, Keil and Griffiths teamed up to form one relay team, with Mynors, Watts and Browne forming the other.
Both teams raced hard with some fantastic quick changeovers and Chappelhow, Keil and Griffiths managed to win gold medals in a time of 7:30.1, with Mynors, Watts and Browne fighting it out with another strong team from King’s, beating them by just 0.3 of a second to take the silver medal in a time of 7:44.2.
The WJ15 2km relay brought together Elstone, Harrison, Hodgson and Usselmann for their final race of the day. Establishing a 30m lead after the first few changeovers proved their training had paid off as they easily held their position over the opposition.
Maintaining their lead, the girls finished in gold medal position in a time of 7:12.6.
Stratford’s J14 coach Abi Terry said: “A brilliant day’s racing was had by all and this was shown by all of the WJ14s and WJ15s who competed and came away with at least one medal each.”