Two young athletes from Leek tasted success at national level last week with a win in the British Rowing Junior Inter Regional Championships when they won gold in the WJ14 double scull at the National Watersports Centre in Nottingham.
However we have to go back a little to see that the seeds for their success were laid in two Sport England funded programmes – the Sportivate and Satellite Clubs initiatives.
Ella Barratt and Louisa Hall both started rowing in spring 2014 on the Sportivate indoor-rowing programme that the club has developed in conjunction with St Edwards Academy in Leek. Neither had considered rowing before but thought they would like to give it a go.
Having tried it and liked it the next step was transferring to the water and the club’s junior learn to row programme. Still liking it they joined the North Staffs Junior Section in September 2014.
The winter was spent developing skills on the water and land training at the Satellite club that North Staffs has established at Leek High School. In spring 2015 they started competing in regional regattas in the North West gaining experience of competing and winning medals against other regional crews.
The winter of 2015/16 again saw some serious training both on the water at Rudyard Lake and indoors at the Satellite Club.
Following the regional trials in March this year they were selected to represent the North West in the double scull.
Daily training sessions followed and their hard work paid off when they won their heat and then rowed through with a strong final finish to win the gold medal. The final verdict was by a canvas (about 3 feet). This was a significant win against the top 11 other crews from around the country.
A breathless Louisa said afterwards “This is the hardest and best thing I have ever done”
The North Staffs Junior section has grown from 7 youngsters at its inception in 2009 to over 70 currently thanks in large part to the successful partnerships forged with local schools through the Sportivate and Satellite Club programmes.