North-East rowers dominate national championships
(13 May 2008)
Rowers from Durham and Newcastle universities prove unbeatable at the British Universities Sports Association (BUSA) rowing championships at the weekend.
The results, which saw Durham sweeping to first place, followed by Newcastle in second place, have underlined the region's claim to be the capital of first class rowing in Britain and set up the prospect of a titanic battle on the Tyne on Sunday. Rowing, which for so long has been perceived to have been dominated by southern universities, most famously Oxford and Cambridge, is flourishing in the North-East with Durham and Newcastle University Boat Clubs in particular establishing a strong foothold for the region at a national level. Teams from both universities overwhelmed the opposition at BUSA's prestigious national championships in Strathclyde, which was attended by 40 universities, 600 teams and over 2000 athletes. Durham's rowers delivered a record-breaking performance to recall the achievements of many of its alumni who have gone on to compete in the sport at international level, including the Olympics. At the end of three days of team events Durham had had secured 2,331 points and won a staggering 50 medals from the 48 events to re-write the record books and ensure a confident mood in the Durham camp ahead of Sunday's University Boat Race against their Newcastle rivals. Newcastle also excelled at Strathclyde, holding off the challenge from strong rowing universities including Bristol, Cardiff and Imperial College to secure second place and another healthy return of medals. Quentin Sloper, Director of Competitions for BUSA and Durham University's Assistant Director of Student Sport, says the performance of Durham and Newcastle Universities at the BUSA regatta would serve to raise the bar for rowing across the country. He said: "It is very rare for one Institution to dominate any sporting discipline but Durham, driven on by the talented athletes and coaches at other institutions like Newcastle, have certainly led the field in rowing over the past few years." Durham University's senior rowing coach Wade Hall-Craggs added: "This is a magnificent achievement by Durham University Boat Club and is the reward for a huge team effort. We are lucky that our boat club inspires not only the athletes to excel, but also the students involved with running the club, the volunteer coaches and support team." Newcastle University Mens Team dominated the heavyweight category winning four out of six events with victories in the Pair, Double, Coxed Four and Quad. Head coach of Newcastle University Boat Club, Angelo Savarino, was delighted with the outcome of the weekend's races. He said: "This was an outstanding result for our relatively small squad of 14 senior and 16 novice men and women rowers, and it is a credit to their commitment and determination that they were able to outshine many of the much larger university clubs." Newcastle University's Director of Sport, Colin Blackburn, added: "Under Angelo's direction, our rowers have really put Newcastle University on the map in terms of our national and international competitiveness. We are confident that we can continue to build on our current form and produce rowers with the potential to compete for Great Britain in the 2012 Olympics."