ALAN Campbell and the Chambers brothers have helped put Bann Rowing Club on the map over the last few years, but the next generation of medal winners from the famous club may come from the Women’s Section.
The females are certainly making waves at Bann at the minute. In fact the women’s section is the strongest it has ever been at the club.
Just last week they had their first Junior World representative as Erin Barry rowed for Ireland in the Quad.
And coach Geoff Bones hopes it is the start of things to come.
“The women’s section is very strong at the moment,” Geoff told Times Sport.
“We are sitting with numbers of just under 40 at the club. We’ve had a few internationals over the last couple of years representing at the Home Internationals and the Coupe de la Jeunesse.
“Erin is the first girl this year to break in to the Junior Worlds crew and hopefully she’ll have another two years at this level.
“We have very high hopes for the womens section. They had very good results at the Irish National Championships recently.
“It is very much a development boat, it’s a very young crew. We medalled in both events this year, the Novice Eights and Junior Eights, but we are hoping that over the next couple of years we can win a championship in one of the boats.
“It hasn’t been a problem attracting girls to the club. At our beginner session back in May we actually had to turn girls away.
“We had 35 girls come along and we had to cut that down to 13, which is really still too many.
“The Men’s section in comparison just isn’t getting the same volume coming through.
“We don’t know if they are going to different sports, but they just aren’t coming here in the same numbers as the girls.
“The girls are very focused. We have 14-year-olds who are dreaming of following in the footsteps of our olympians. They know what they want and they are determined to get it.
“Over the last couple years we have worked hard to bring the girls in with the same style of training Seamus Reynolds was doing with the boys.
“It is certainly paying dividends now, the girls know exactly what they need to be doing and are working hard to achieve that.
“There will be more trials for the Worlds crews coming up later this year and we are confident we will have more girls making the step up.”
Erin is one girl in particular that they have very high hopes for, The 16-year-old Coleraine High School pupil has made great progress since taking up the sport just three years ago.
“I first wanted to take up rowing when I watched it at the Olympics back in 2004. A few of my friends joined the club and I decided to join with them and it has just progressed from there,” said Erin.
“I love it. The women’s section is thriving at the minute and there are always new people looking to join.
“It’s a great way to meet new friends so I’d encourage anyone to take it up it’s a fantastic sport. There are so many good people at the club who give up their own time to come and coach us, we’re really grateful for that.
“I love the training, it’s tough but really enjoyable.
“I’ve only been rowing for three years and this was my first year trialling for Ireland so I’m very pleased with how things are going for me.”
And so she should as he selection for Ireland is testament to how far she has progressed.
“It has been a busy few months for me,” she said. “I was training down in Cork with the Junior Worlds crew before heading off to the World Junior Rowing Championships at Trakai in Lithuania.
“We finished 17th overall. We were pleased with how it panned out for us as we didn’t have the best preparation going in tothe Championships.
“We crashed our boat in the build up and one of our crew members broke her back in the week before we left.
“It made it very difficult as we had trained very well, but the new crew member had to come in and fit in with everything we were doing took a bit of time for us all to adjust.
“But we performed well in Lithuania, we were improving throughout the competition and that is really what we were aiming for after everything that happened in the build up.
“It was a fantastic experience to be racing in such a hotly contested competition. Hopefully I’ll be selected again next year for the chmapionships in Germany.”
One day though Erin hopes to follows Bann’s famous sons on to the Olympic stage.
“Like any sportsman or woman the pinnacle has to be the Olympic Games and for me that’s my dream,” she said.
“Seeing the likes of Alan Campbel and Peter and Richard Chambers do so well in London and also Joel Cassells making his mark on the international scene is a real inspiration for us all.”