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32 Sport Sport Brendan Cahill

Justin’s selection for the Irish U23 rowing squad came on the back of strong showings throughout the year at the trials used by the team’s coaches to assess potential interna- tional athletes. Along the way he also put in commanding perform- ances to win both the Intermediate and Senior Single Sculls events at the Irish University Champi- onships, hosted by UCC in April, and he was honoured by the col- lege with one of the 2010 Sports Star awards. This form was carried through to national squad training and Justin was one of the few row- ers deemed to have reached the standard required to represent Ire- land and race competitively at the numerous international regattas held throughout Europe n June and July.

Stepping up to race senior athletes at the World Cup Regattas at Lake Bled in Slovenia and Lucerne in Switzerland proved to be a an eye- opening experience for Justin, who was paired with Niall Kenny from NUIG Boat Club. “Beforehand we thought we would be in the mix for at least the B Final but in the heat the Canadian crew beside us took off and we didn't see them again until the finish. No matter how many times you’re told in advance you can't understand the difference between Irish rowing and senior international rowing until you ex- perience it.”

For the World U23 Championships Ryan and Kenny were joined in the Quadruple Scull by Michael Maher of Commercial Rowing Club from Dublin and another Skibbereen man, Mark O’Donovan of CIT Rowing Club. With this boat com- bination performing well in train-

ing, confidence was high heading to Belarus. The crew progress through to the final with as much ease as is possible at international

been the product of a considerable amount of hard work and dedica- tion. A typical week’s training will consist of two sessions a day, with

level, qualifying with the second fastest time at each stage without having to push themselves to their limits. The Irish boys performed heroically in the final, finding themselves just piped for first place by the traditionally powerful Ger-

mans, with Great Britain well back in third. While the crew’s initial re- action upon crossing the finish line was one of disappointment on missing out on gold, the realization of their achievement soon sank in. Podium finishes for Irish crews at world level are rare that medals of any hue are greeted with great en- thusiasm by the rowing community here.

Achieving this level of success has

a mix of weights, cardio work in the gym on bikes and rowing ma- chines and long spins on the water at the National Rowing Centre, lo- cated just outside Cork city in Far- ran Wood. Balancing this volume of training with the demands of college life isn’t easy. “I have to plan training sessions around lec- ture times, sometimes getting up as early as 5.30am to have my session done before an early lecture.” Competing as a lightweight and keeping below the 70kg limit pres- ents a further challenge. “I have to be both organised and disciplined going to bed at the right time, eat- ing right and generally taking care of myself so as not to get sick which also means missing out in

University College Cork Rowing champion shows the way for club success

some of the normal student experi- ences i.e. drinking and going out.”

Justin cites his easy access to the

ing to represent Ireland at interna- tional level.

Justin’s goals for the coming year

September 28th 2010

Smiles all around for Ireland’s World U23 Championship medalists, who were unlucky to lose out on the gold. Photo: Rowing Ireland

support structures provided by the Rowing Ireland High Performance program, based at the NRC, as being crucial to his development this year. “Living in Cork my vi- tally important to me in terms of rowing, without the constant work on my technique, fitness, strength and mental conditioning by the Rowing Ireland coaches I would not have even made it to the U23’s not to mind have medalled there”. Hopefully Justin won’t be the only UCC student to take advantage of this proximity. With such an in- valuable resource on its doorstep there is the potential for the college to become the preferred destination for any talented junior rowers hop-

are straightforward. “I want to be the fastest lightweight rower in the country in the trials and be in the best lightweight boat that Ireland sends to compete internationally. I'm not sure exactly what regattas we will compete or whether the Olympic qualifiers or the U23s will be the main focus of the year. That’s a decision for the coaches; all I can do is go as fast as possi- ble.”

An introductory meeting took place on Monday 27th September for anyone interested in joining UCC Rowing Club this year. All levels of experience, from ab- solute beginner to international medallist, are catered for.

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