The 3rd Annual Irish Indoor Rowing Championships were held for the first time at the UCD Sports Centre on Sunday, 1st December.
Athletes competed over 2000 metres on rowing machines with the best time winning their respective category. There was over 250 athletes, heavyweight and lightweight, ranging from the ages of 14 to over 70 who competed in 28 categories.
Irish rowing clubs from Dublin, Cork, Galway, Limerick, Kerry, Enniskillen and Carlow were joined by athletes from Sports Centres across the country, Britain and the Continent. The appeal of the Championships was evident with heavy contingents from Stranraer and Armley Leisure Centres among the competitors.
A crowd of over 150 supporters cheered on the athletes in the Sports Hall where a total of 20 indoor rowing machines were linked up via computer. An overhead screen was then able to project a live ‘race’ format to accompany the gusto of the race commentator, which all in all, increased the excitement of the competitors and spectators alike.
The best time of the day went to Eamonn Joyce of UCC who won the Men’s Open event in a time of 6 minutes and 2 seconds. He was quickly followed by Albert Maher of Neptune and UCD’s very own Con Collis were just 2.5 seconds behind the Corkman. However, in the Men’s U23 Heavyweight event, UCD prevailed with Brian O’Connell beating rivals from Skibbereen and Galway to take the gold medal.
The best time in the Women’s events went to Eimear Moran of Offaly in a time of 7:08, but UCD’s ladies squad had a highly successful event, taking home four medals in total. Helen Walshe missed out on the gold by a mere second in the U23 Heavyweight event and she was joined on the podium by Niamh Garvey who took the bronze. Also, Fiona Meade won the bronze in the U23 Lightweight event and Catherine deBlacam took a comfortable silver in the Women’s Open Event.
However, no athlete on the day could claim to be as courageous or as inspiring as Judy Woolfenden from Castle Farm Sports Centre who competed in the Women’s 50-59 category. The MS-sufferer completed the race while being applauded home by the humble crowd.
The feedback from the athletes and supporters alike was wholly positive according to John Holland, the co-ordinator of event and bodes well for this event to find a home at UCD.