Nearly 700 athletes took part in the 2021 Queensland Schools’ State Championships at Rockhampton on the Fitzroy River. The Rowing Team started the exciting trip away with a bus trip up on Friday 17 September. There were several key events over the three-day Championship for the Somerset Spartans. 

Callum McClure, Thomas Gray and Luke Oishi were selected to represent the South Coast in the Open Boys Inter-Regional Quad race on the Saturday afternoon. Callum and Thomas again featured on Sunday making the Final of the Boys Year 11 Pair. However, the true Golden moment was Jack Hodge winning Gold in the LTA Single event. Monday was the last day of the Championships and the Girls Quad of Lillian Tan, Eliza Strong, Georgia Daly and Emelia Fink only just missed out on making the A-Final by 0.7 of a second. The Boys Year 9 Quad and Boys Year 8 Quad found their way to the A-Final, so too did Thomas Gray in the Boys Year 11 Single Scull. After three days of tough racing many other crews were hungry to return and try again at next year’s Schools’ State Championships.

Crews had been training throughout Term Three in preparation of putting on their best performance. With weekly monitoring for the Senior Rowers run by Annette Eastwood to give athletes feedback on their progress. Junior crews practiced race starts and enjoyed challenging themselves on the Olympic training venue for Paddling Australia next to Bond University. With the standard of rowing in Queensland only getting stronger and faster it was great to see Somerset Spartans support each other on and off the water in doing their best.

For many the challenge of moving a boat as quickly as possible over 2000 metres is one of the hardest things they will ever do. For some athletes the challenge of being able to just compete is even harder. The lesson taught by Jack Hodge in making the most of that opportunity is something the Somerset Spartan Rowing team will take away with them with great pride. The team spirit in supporting Jack was amazing to see. In a sport that often focuses too greatly who the fastest boat will be, it was a great reminder that the sport also finds huge value in participation and relies heavily on getting as many people involved as possible, no matter their size or experience. The strength and courage to compete is the greatest asset in a boat and for three days on the Fitzroy River it was fantastic to see 36 Somerset Spartans put in their best performance and work together as a team.

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