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X2 Golds & 1 Silver: National Junior Indoor Rowing Championships (NJIRC)

On Friday 3rd March, 34 rowers travelled to the Copper Box Arena to compete at the National Junior Indoor Rowing Championships (NJIRC).  This was the first time this event has been held live since 2020 and its scale has grown dramatically. For example, our Year 7 rowers were competing with over 500 other athletes.

Seven of the ten Year 7 rowers finished in the top 30 in their event: particular congratulations go to Ethan Taylor who was 7th in the boys’ event and to Ava Harbinson who came a frustrating 4th , just outside the medals by 1m.

The Year 8 competition, had an even greater number – over 600 competitors. In this case, nine of our dozen rowers were in the top 40, with Lulu Keedwell topping the charts with 11th place.

GMS’s Year 9 team, while keen to see how they did individually, was mainly focused on the relays. Very strong performances in the individual competition suggested both teams were in the running for medal positions, with the top girl being Bea Spence in 9th overall and the top boy being Ernie Stevens coming 13th.

The boys were in one of the earlier relays in their section and rowed an impressive 7:00.3 time for the Henley Course (2112 m). That saw them walk into the medal enclosure in Silver medal position. As each race was completed, all rowers were looking to see if any other crews had broken the 7:00 minute mark and one more did, moving the GMS boys to the Bronze Medal bench. On the very last race, yet one more crew finished just under the 7-minute mark meaning the boys were out of the medal enclosure: a very impressive fourth but sadly no medal.

The Year 9 girls rowed early in their set of races and achieved an extremely impressive 7:44 for their 2112m. As races took place everyone watched the board for the winning times: no one came close to their speed. However, due to some poor event management, the girls did not make it into the medal enclosure. Soit was a completely opposite scenario to the boys: they were not invited in until some heated discussion changed management’s mind: they sat in the medal arena on bench reserved for the Gold medalists.  A fantastic result for Lucy Platt, Kayla Shillito, Bea Spence and Natasha Pendlebury.

In the older categories, there were four athletes, who had realistic shots at being awarded a national medal. After a very long day, leaving GMS at 0630 and racing around 1,600 rowers, these four athletes were cheered home alongside the Year 9 Gold medalists.

Connor Quaan in Year 10, put in an impressive 1481m in 5 minutes, placing him 6th overall in Year 10. Abi Forgenie went one better with 1574 in 6 minutes, placing her 5th in Year 11. Ethan Hunt, giving away about 4 inches in height to the other medallists, won an amazing Silver medal and Poppy Spence finished our Day with Gold in the 6 minute Year 11 challenge with a distance of 1622.

NJIRC Medals

Lucy Platt, Kayla Shillito, Bea Spence, Natasha Pendlebury – GOLD

Poppy Sence – GOLD

Ethan Hunt – SILVER

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