RISING Bann stars Joel Cassells and Chris Black were given a vote of confidence by Number 10 before the Junior 18 World Championships in Plovdiv, Bulgaria next week.
The current Irish, British and double European pairs champions were proudly introduced to Prime Minister David Cameron by club captain Keith Leighton during the PM’s visit to the rowing club last Wednesday morning.
“It was a big surprise, we only found out this morning,” said a delighted Joel, another of the seemingly never ending Coleraine Inst rowing production line.
Recounting their recent achievements, Joel said: “In July we won the men’s senior pairs, we were the first junior crew to do it.
“We also went over to Nottingham to the British National Schools Championships where we won the pairs as well.”
In May the boys warmed up for Bulgaria by winning their event at the Munich Junior Regatta.
Chris, who attends Dominican, added: “Last year we were over in Austria, competing in the European Championships, the Coupe de la Jeunesse and we won double gold there in the same event.”
Outstandingly talented, both boys have been nurtured at Bann for the past six years and have developed superbly under the guidance of coach Seamus Reynolds.
Joel agrees that the current crop of Coleraine rowers plying their trade at London 2012 are an inspiration to all of the club’s junior members.
“In our junior years we rowed alongside Peter Chambers and co, so to see them within two years of leaving here going to the Olympics etc, it’s just amazing, an inspiration.”
So how is a tiny club in a tiny corner of Northern Ireland managing to produce a steady stream of world class rowers and Olympians?
Joel offered this explanation: “A fantastic coaching team in Seamus Reynolds and Geoff Bones and the excellent organisation that goes on here.
“It’s unbelievable, a bit of magic in the Bann.”
And hopes for Bulgaria - more glory for Coleraine?
Joel added: “We hope to do as well as we can, we hope to medal...”
With David Cameron’s ringing endorsement there’s no doubt that these Bann boys will do their club and Coleraine proud!