Shrewsbury School

Salopian wins international rowing gold

Wednesday 8 May 2013

Harry Lonergan (O UVI) returned from the 1st International Junior Regatta of the German Rowing Federation (DRV) in Munich (4th/5th May) having won gold for Great Britain in the Junior VIIIs race.

Harry Lonergan with GB Junior VIII crew receiving their gold medals

The GB Junior A VIII proudly wearing their gold medals - Harry Lonergan is third from the right. They are flanked by Germany (silver) and Croatia (bronze).
Photo: ©2013 by Olympia Regattaverein München: Wolfgang Walter

The GB Team recorded its best ever results, coming away with seven titles over the two days of the Regatta. Harry was a member of the VIII that recorded an impressive victory, holding off strong challenges from Germany and Croatia to win the showpiece event on Sunday afternoon.

This was one of the largest junior regattas, with more than 700 rowers from 13 European and African countries competing. It was held on the Olympic regatta course of 1972.

Harry, a Cassidy Scholar, was also a member of the Great Britain Coxless Four that came fourth at the Junior World Championships in August last year.

He will be hoping to secure a seat in one of the top boats for this year's Junior Rowing World Championships that are to be held at Trakai in Lithuania in August.

GB Junior VIII crew, Munich International Regatta 2013

Harry (at no.3) celebrating victory with the rest of the GB Junior VIII

Many thanks to Harry for his vivid account of the weekend:

"Having been selected in the top two boats (the coxless four and the eight) for the Munich Junior International Regatta, I knew there was going to be pressure on me to win my first international gold medal.

Waking up on Friday morning before my flight to Munich, I felt an excited nervousness, so much so that I lost track of time and arrived at the airport, in true salopian style, five minutes before check-in closed. When we arrived in Munich, we were on a very tight schedule and amid the panic and rush that the team felt (as the manager gave us 15 minutes after arriving at the hotel to check in, unpack and get changed into kit, before being back on the bus) I did feel a sense of calm.

We eventually got the course, where the final selection for boats was announced, and headed out for a quick paddle (just before the forecasted storm arrived) to get 'the journey' out of our legs.

At 6am on Saturday morning my alarm went off, and I knew it was time to head down to breakfast to get ready to race. However, Saturday morning brought with it a certain amount of disappointment, missing out on the 'A' final of the coxless fours event, being beaten to the line by Austria by 0.8 seconds, with our boat posting the second quickest time of the day.

Racing in the 'B' final, later that day, we knew we had to win to stand any chance at the World Rowing Junior Championships later this year. However, we neither won nor lost. Instead we dead-heated with the Croatian top four. Whilst this may be a very rare feat, for the other three members of my crew, exactly the same thing had happened the week before at the GB Trials!

Saturday evening brought with it many talks with coaches about how we could improve on the day’s performance when we go out and race the Germans, Croatians and Swiss (to name a few) the next day in the eight. Whilst we all came up with ideas as to how we may be able to overcome them, the simple truth was that we needed to go out harder, row better and be stronger.

Sunday morning at 6.30am my alarm went off. A lie in! Following the same routine as the morning before, we went out and raced our semi-final in the morning, winning convincingly over five other crews, pushing three of them into the 'B' Final. Whilst our confidence was built up with the knowledge we were fast, during our warm down paddle we saw the German national eight dominating their field. We knew it was us versus them. A one on one to put everything that went wrong the day before right.

3.20pm came around fast, and we were paddling up to the start for our 4.00pm final. Sitting on the start line, people were slapping their legs, hitting the boat, trying to get into that racing state of mind. The umpire called for people to get ready to row, the red light switched on, and turned to green. We were away, and a length up on Germany. From after the 500m mark, it is difficult to remember much, until we were standing proud on the podiums with gold medals round our necks.

We had done what we needed to do. However, the season is not over yet, there is much more racing to come; National Schools’ Regatta, Henley Royal Regatta and the Junior World Rowing Championships. The feeling of winning a gold medal has made me hungry for more. The rest of the season is going to be hard, but I believe working at 100% for all of it will truly be worth it.

As our coach, Mr Hundermark says, “Perfection is not a sometimes thing, boys”."

GB Junior VIII crew (nearest the camera) at Munich Regatta 2013


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