Triple Gold Yorkshire Olympian on the hunt for home grown heroes
"There’s is a huge amount of untapped talent in Yorkshire."
Rowing superstar, Andy Triggs-Hodge is back in Yorkshire helping to search for future Olympic champions.
At the Rio Games, Yorkshire rowers brought home three golds and a silver medal. The GB Rowing Team have decided the county is a pretty good place to prospect for gold and will be at the RowLeeds Indoor Championships on the 20th March conducting the biggest ever recruitment drive in the north of England.
Having taken gold at Beijing, London and Rio, Triggs-Hodge knows what it takes to win at the highest level. “We’re not looking for experienced rowers. We want people between the ages of 14 and 22 who have the two things we can’t coach: height and grit. Thankfully, there’s no shortage of that in Yorkshire.”
Leeds: a waking giant
With a fulltime GB coach, a £1.4 million state-of-the-art facility, and sport science support from the city’s universities, Leeds has everything needed to turn home grown talent into world class success. “Rowing in Leeds is unrecognisable. When I was growing up, there was no rowing in the city at all. Now we have thriving clubs for all ages.”
The GB Rowing coach for Yorkshire, Matthew Paul, is working across Leeds Rowing Club, the University of Leeds and Leeds Beckett to develop the more senior members of his squad. Paul has an enviable track record in developing raw talent. “For someone starting this year, Tokyo is a bit soon, but Paris is a realistic target. I am committed to making sure Leeds becomes a rowing powerhouse. There’s is a huge amount of untapped talent in Yorkshire. It’s my job to discover it.”
Taking on the public schools
To develop junior talent, Paul is working on an exciting new project with The Gorse Academies Trust - a programme for which Triggs-Hodge is an ambassador. With five secondary academies and the Elliott Hudson College serving over 6,000 students, Gorse has lofty ambitions to mix it with public schools in the Thames Valley.
The top-ranking college in the region, Elliott Hudson is launching a new post-16 offer in Boston Spa this September. For those who catch Paul’s eye, there’s still a chance to apply for their 2019 intake. Hodge is quick to point out how rowing sets up athletes for later life. “As someone who ended up at Oxford through rowing, I know first-hand how this sport can prepare you for the day you finally hang up your oar. At Gorse, it’s about excellence in sport and academia, with neither compromised.”
If you are between 14 and 22 and think you might have what it takes, Talent ID testing will be at the RowLeeds Indoor Championships, John Charles Centre for Sport on the 20th March. For more information and to apply, go to www.rowuk.co.uk/talentid.
Ben Cox, Director, RowUK
M: 07855 452927
With three Olympic golds, four World Championship wins and a Boat Race victory to his name, ‘Hodgey’ is one of Great Britain’s most decorated rowers. Raised in Hebden, North Yorkshire, Triggs-Hodge started rowing at Staffordshire University before going on to win the Boat Race with Oxford in 2005. Having entered the GB squad the year before at the Athens Olympics, Hodge was chosen for the coxless four in Beijing where he stroked the boat to victory. After winning again in London in front of a packed Dorney crowd, Hodge was struck down by glandular fever in the run up to Rio. He fought back from illness and qualified for the men’s eight where he took his third Olympic gold as part of a dominant GB display. He is now retired from rowing and works for Tideway, the company building a super sewer under the Thames. Triggs-Hodge is working with charities and businesses to build the legacy of a clean and active river for Londoners to enjoy. He is married with two children.
The Great Britain Rowing Team
Having won every Olympic rowing regatta since 2000, the Great Britain Rowing Team is one of the country’s strongest international sporting programmes. Coached by Jurgen Grobler, arguably one of the most successful coaches in any sport, the Great Britain Rowing Team has won a gold medal at every Olympics since 1984; a feat achieved by no other sport. Having almost guaranteed success for so many years, rowing - along with cycling - is the best-funded of all Olympic sports. GB rowers typically emerge from its strong domestic scene of university and club rowing. In addition, the GB Rowing Team also runs the ‘World Class Start’ programme, whereby it identifies untrained individuals with the physical and mental qualities likely to lead to international podium level success. These athletes are given fulltime support in one of ten centres across the UK until such time as they are ready to enter the GB training headquarters in Caversham. Rowing is a power-endurance sport and the training is therefore gruelling. Athletes can expect to train 18 sessions a week with very few days off, all for a race decided in under six minutes.
The RowLeeds Indoor Championships
This event, delivered by RowUK, runs three times a year for Leeds secondary schools. Students between the ages of 11 and 16 compete on indoor rowing machines with the progress of their virtual boats beamed up onto a big screen. The RowLeeds Champions will be the school to have collated the highest amount of points across all three events each year. Indoor rowing is an affordable and accessible version of the sport. RowUK also runs indoor rowing clubs in Leeds schools each week and the ‘Indoor Champs’ is the competition framework supporting that programme. Each school is coached by a qualified volunteer from the University of Leeds Boat Club, Leeds Rowing Club or Leeds Beckett Rowing Club. For those young people wishing to progress to on-water rowing, they can apply to join Leeds Rowing Club. In addition, five Leeds schools are part of The Gorse Boat Club. The Gorse Academies Trust is a multi-academy trust with a high percentage of students qualifying for Pupil Premium. Gorse has two fulltime professional rowing coaches and its own on-water rowing club. Gorse students compete all over the country.
RowUK co-ordinates rowing across Leeds and works to bring the sport to young people from state school backgrounds. It does this through a mixture of indoor and on-water rowing. RowUK partners with the University of Leeds to conduct research into the impact of sport on physical and mental wellbeing, academic attainment and progression to further and higher education. RowUK’s work will soon be supported by its new sister charity, The RowUK Foundation.
The Gorse Academies Trust
Gorse is a highly successful multi-academy trust comprised of five secondary academies, five primary academies, a post-16 college and an alternative provision school. The Trust has an increasingly well-known reputation for changing the deal for children and young adults who come from some of the most impoverished parts of the country. Its central mission is to ensure that it plays a significant role in removing the stubborn link between poverty and academic underperformance. Consequently, Gorse students and professionals are in the vanguard of the national drive which seeks to prove that where teaching is excellent, leadership inspiring and behaviour standards exemplary all children excel regardless of background.
The Gorse Boat Club became a British Rowing affiliated club in 2017 and rows out of the Leeds Boat House in Stourton. It employs two fulltime professional rowing coaches and this workforce is set to expand in the coming years. An emblematic programme for Trust, Gorse is determined to give its students a very different extra-curricular opportunity to help broaden their horizons, raise their aspirations and take confidence from matching the achievements of other students across the country.