North Shore Times : January 13th 2011
22 NORTH SHORE TIMES, JANUARY 13, 2011 NEWS Passion for rowing Dedicated sportsman: Rower Liam Berryman says only the most passionate will stick with rowing. Photo: KAREY WALKER Star struck: Takapuna Grammar Rowing Club captain Melissa Niemandt met her idol at world championships. Photo: KAREY WALKER Winning women: Women's pair Rebecca Scown, left, and former Takapuna Grammar rower Juliette Haigh on the winning dias at the 2010 World Rowing Championships. Photo:JEREMY SMITH Record numbers of spectators attended the World Rowing Championships when the showpiece event returned to New Zealand for the first time since 1978. Reporter Felicity Reid talks rowing with two up-and-comers who got close to their idols at New Zealand's premier rowing venue in an unforgettable experience. Steeped in tradition and tough tales, rowing is one of the oldest sports in the world and season after season legions of newcomers are tempted to take up an oar. Takapuna Grammar Row- ing Club's Melissa Niemandt and Liam Berryman are among the thousands of teenagers from more than 145 secondary schools nation- wide who dedicate eight months of the year to rowing. The sport, which has fea- tured at the Olympics since 1900, is characterised by early morning starts and gruelling off-the-water train- ing regimes. For very rower the erg test is the worst,'' Niemandt says. When I know one is coming up my stomach drops. It's six minutes of pain and you are so numb afterwards you can't think,'' Berryman says. But it's bearable because your crew is getting up with you and going through the same things as you,'' club captain Niemandt says. Uniquely ,Takapuna Grammar Rowing Club operates as both a club and a school. It is a fully affiliated club with the Amateur Rowing Association and can row in any official regatta in New Zealand in school colours. The club is also affiliated to the Secondary Schools Rowing Association and com- pete as a school in regattas at the end of the season. This season -- September to March -- the club has 55 rowers from novices through to seniors. You spend more time with them than you do your fam- ily,'' Berryman says of his crew. Rowing is a tight-knit com- munity, according to Berryman, and he says the amateurs regularly interact with the international rowers including former Takapuna Grammar student and world champion Juliette Haigh. After a 32-year wait more than 66,700 people watched the week-long world event at Lake Karapiro setting a new attendance record for the championships. But few fans were as close to their idol as Niemandt. As an official boat holder during the medal ceremonies, the 17-year-old couldn't believe her luck when she got to hold bronze medal winning single skuller Emma Twigg's boat. Twigg's medal is New Zealand's second in the event, with Stephanie Foster also winning bronze in Switzer- land in 1982. Afterwards all the girls were like: I want to row for New Zealand','' Niemandt says. Despite a language barrier, Berryman, 17, had a memor- able encounter with the Italian lightweight rowing eight at world championships where he quizzed them on their competition. In April Niemandt and Berryman, along with students from 1200 other crews, will return to Lake Karapiro for the New Zealand Secondary Schools Rowing Regatta which is known as the Maadi Cup. It is New Zealand's largest regatta and the the largest school sports event in the Southern Hemisphere, encompassing around 400 races across 42 events. Niemandt and Berryman agree that Maadi Cup is the pinnacle of their secondary rowing careers. Rowing has a strong tra- dition on the North Shore with 2010 marking 50 years of regattas on Takapuna's Lake Pupuke. The first regatta held on the lake in the modern era was the Bennett Shield on November 26 1960, when West End snatched the shield from Mercer and North Shore in the first regatta held on the lake for more than half a century. In more recent years, the lake had been the venue of the TGS/Waitemata, Bennett Shield, Masters, Westlake Junior and Head of Harbour sprint regattas.
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January 14th 2011