STRATFORD Boat Club’s junior squad and their parents braved Storm Ciara to attend the annual South of England Indoor Rowing Championships and their commitment was fully rewarded with a series of medal-winning performances.
The event was run by Hinksey Sculling School in Abingdon and the championship started with the individual events and the J15 girls’ five-minute category first.
Stratford’s Ruby Howells went out hard and led her group, closely followed by Fleur Griffiths and Freya Watts.
At the other end of the sports hall, Bella Chappelhow also started out well and led her group by a considerable margin. The battle between Howells and Griffiths continued and they finished with exactly the same distance to gain themselves the silver medals.
Chappelhow finished just one metre behind them to take the bronze, with Watts finishing in a very respectable seventh place.
Next up was the J15 boys’ five-minute race in which Tomi Wilcock, Will Beattie and Toby Sartain all competed in what proved to be another close battle for the top between Wilcock and an athlete from Hinksey Sculling School.
Wilcock took the silver, nine metres behind gold, with Beattie in sixth and Sartain 12th.
Will Clarke was the only J16 taking part and he raced over the full 2,000m. He went out hard but, having been suffering with a bad virus, found he could not sustain the fast pace he had set. Despite this, Clarke finished in a very good eighth place.
The day culminated with the relays and both the open and girls’ J15 relays took place at the same time over 3,000m.
The open team of Wilcock, Beattie, Sartain and Lucy Browne put in a good performance in a battle with The Langley Academy and Falcon Boat Club and the Stratford quartet finished in a brilliant third place to secure the bronze medal.
The girls’ team of Howells, Chappelhow, Griffiths and Watts faced another closely-fought race with Hinksey Sculling School but the Stratford girls did what was needed and, despite the race coming down to the final 250m, they won the title for the second consecutive year to pick up the gold medals.
J15 coach Abi Terry said: “This was a brilliant result for the J15 squad who all returned to Stratford with at least one medal each.”