Commonwealth Rowing Championships 2014 - Report

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Posted: August 11, 2014

Scotland topped the medal table at the Commonwealth Rowing Championships held this weekend at Strathclyde Country Park.

Fourteen nations competed over two days in events over a 1500m and 500m course.  The Scottish team won nine gold medals, four silvers and two bronzes.  England were second on the table, with the same fifteen-medal medal total five golds, seven silvers and three bronzes, while Canada were third, with four golds, four silvers and five bronzes.  Wales and Australia each won one gold, with Wales also taking four silvers and five bronzes.  Northern Ireland took two bronze medals while Norfolk Islands lightweight sculler Simon Nola made history with his nation's first-ever medal - bronze in the 500 metre dash.

Glasgow's Angus Groom (Leander) was the most successful athlete at the event, winning four golds - in open single sculls and sprint single sculls, before joining up with Lewis McCue (Robert Gordon's University) to win both the open and sprint double sculls categories.

Speaking after his single sculls win, Groom said, "I had a good start and was up about a length at 250 gone.  I knew it was going to be quite windy so I was just tapping it along using not too much energy and I was definitely under control." More generally, he added, "to be a Commonwealth champion is absolutely brilliant.  This is my first time representing Scotland at anything, so to do it on home waters is absolutely fantastic."

McCue took a third gold when he partnered Cameron Buchan from Denny - home from Northeastern University in the USA - to victory in the coxless pairs event.

The Scottish women's quadruple sculls crew of Rebecca Lightfoot, Emma McDonald (both Glasgow University) and the Edinburgh duo of Katherine Douglas (Leander)  and Molesey's Karen Bennett won the first final of the event to set the tone.  Bennett and Douglas then partnered each other to gold in the women's pair event, as well as silver medals in double sculls.

Leander's Donald Evans won lightweight single sculls and the Scottish gold medal haul was completed by the Edinburgh University duo of Tom Claxton and Kieran Brown, who won the lightweight coxless pairs sprint.  They also took silver in the full-distance pairs and double sculls events.

Edinburgh University's Georgina Grandfield came second to England in the women's single sculls category while the Scottish bronze medals were picked up by Emma McDonald in lightweight singles and McDonald again, this time partnered by Glasgow University's Rebecca Lightfoot, in lightweight double sculls.

Pippa Whittaker from Leander was the most successful English athlete, winning two golds and two silver medals, and she was generous in her praise for the event, saying, "it's all been very good here and very nicely organised."

The spirit of the regatta was summed up in the final race - an exhibition mixed eights event.  In conjunction with these Championships, Scottish Rowing had been running an "Inspire" programme for their talented junior athletes, who had been shadowing the senior team in their preparations as well as acting as the start team for the regatta.  They were released from stakeboat duties to race in a field that included an impromptu "Spirit of the Commonwealth" crew - a composite drawn from Gibraltar, Guernsey, the Isle of Man, Vanuatu and Zambia, with a Scottish cox.  A delighted Welsh eight just held off a strong Scottish charge on the line to win, while after a fast start, the Scottish juniors held off the Commonwealth composite.

These Commonwealth successes follow hard on the heels of the Scottish record-breaking performances at the Home International Regatta in Cork two weeks earlier, and complete the most successful international season yet achieved by Scottish rowers.   Team manager Graeme Cunningham said, ""there is no doubt that Glasgow 2014 has had a massive impact on the team. The athletes have rowed with pride and belief to produce Scotland's best ever performance at the Commonwealth Rowing Championships.  It has been an exciting regatta but we see this as the beginning of a journey that will propel these athletes to the very top of the sport."

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