National Junior Indoor Rowing Championships 2023

After a long 3 year wait the National Championships returned; held at the Olympic Copper Box Stadium in Stratford. 30 pupils competed representing themselves and SMA against a huge field of pupils corresponding to their age group.

Year 7 Boys followed by Year 8 Boys and Year 8 Girls, then Year 9 Boys - brought us to the break and the Blue Ribbon Event of the Championships – Relays!!

The Blood, Sweat and Tears came out in the Year 8 Boys individual Competition and turned this event into a saga! Boys nervously raised their handlebars in preparation of the start, with 30 pupils rowing in each heat and over 4 different race areas, which would be repeated until all pupils had raced.

The shouts and screams of encouragement and coaching from the crowd were almost deafening and as the heats progressed the winning distance increased and increased & INCREASED! Finally, the turn of Ade Oyeleye who slugged it out neck and neck with one other pupil and miles ahead of others in their heat – 3 minutes of back and forth vying for 1st place and it came down to the last second and… A TIE for 1st place with a total of 902m! Then came the long wait for the last two heats to take place!

A drop to 2nd place, beaten in the penultimate heat with a score of 917m… this meant the final heat was a real nail-biting time and conferring by judges and then EVERYONE just stopping to watch as a standout rower was emerging coming, in with an impossible 936m!! Who does that!!!

Over joyed to hold on to achieve joint bronze position and therefore No. 3 spot in the UK and building on from winning the Gold medal at the London Youth Games last summer. WELL DONE ADE!!

Relays: are the most hotly contested events and this year did not disappoint. The atmosphere was totally electrifying and the nerves of competitors palpable too. SMA Senior Team: Year 10s + 1 Year 9 to assist (and a man less from the start) making an undermanned team, slogged away for 16 minutes and 19 seconds and achieved a very commendable place in the Top 15th - {against full teams of older Year 11 pupils.}

SMA Superstar Boys Sprint Relay team rowed 2000m achieving an excellent 12th place in their category have already pushed to their maximum in their earlier individual races. And it was great to see a full Year 8 Girls Sprint team competing (1st time for SMA @ NJIRC) - Well Done Girls.

Big applause must also be given to other pupils who performed superbly in the individual categories.

                   · Kevin Nana-Ampaw (Yr 10 Boys) – Top 30 placement

· Hans Beeckman (Yr 9 Boys) – Top 40 placement

· Alvin Sakole (Yr 8 Boys) – Top 40 placement

· Grace Ba (Yr 8 Girls) – just missing Top 40 placement (41st)

· Appollos (Yr 9 Boys) – just missing Top 50 placement (54th)


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