Rookie rowers’ surprise silver

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Two Wakatipu High rowers have nabbed silver at the national champs – despite being involved in the sport for less than a year. 

Year 13 students Kate Gilbert, 17, and Olivia Robins, 17, paddled across the line in the novice women’s double sculls final just two seconds behind Canterbury at the NZ National Rowing Champ­ionships in Twizel last week. 

It’s the first national medal for the Wakatipu Rowing Club in about six years, girls’ coach Maurice Maxwell says. 

“It’s a good reflection on the whole squad because it means they’re starting to row well and get a good level of fitness organised.” 

The girls are “stoked” with the result – especially as they are heading into the South Island Secondary Schools and the coveted Maadi Cup National Secondary School Champ­ionships at Lake Karapiro in March. “We kind of don’t want too much pressure or anything, we’re just going to try our hardest again and see how far we can go,” Olivia says. 

“We’re quited amped for Maadi now as well.” 

The talented pair also raced with Jordan Howell, 16, and Kelby Buchanan, 16, to fourth in the women’s under-21 coxless quad scull final, while Alex Jamieson, 16, and Gabby Buchanan, 17, claimed fifth in the lightweight  double scull finals. 

“It’s cool to see our training starting to pay off,” Kate says. 

The local rowers’ punishing schedule involves 10 workouts a week – including being on the water at 6am, plus two-hour training sessions at nights and then regattas most weekends. 

The duo get straight back on the water on Saturday with other local student teams to tackle regional rowers in the Redpaths Central Schools Regatta at Lake Hayes.