FOLLOWING IN THEIR FOOTSTEPS

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ROWER Joel Cassells watched as his former clubmates helped make London 2012 history, but now the Coleraine teenager is keeping his fingers crossed that he will be able to keep the good times flowing for Great Britain this month.

London 2012 was Great Britain’s most successful in terms of rowing, picking up nine medals at Eton Dorney including a bronze for Alan Campbell in the single sculls and a silver for the lightweight coxless four that included brother Peter and Richard Chambers.

The trio learnt their trade at Bann Rowing Club, the same place that 18-year-old Cassells first picked up an oar before moving to Oxford Brookes University last year to study law and politics.

Cassells has come a long way since those early days and is currently a Team GB reserve for this month’s Australian Youth Olympic Festival, a competition that sees approximately 1700 athletes from 30 countries competing across 17 sports.

And the former Coleraine Inst pupil admits he is itching to get in on the action Down Under to continue Bann Rowing Club’s good work in British colours.

“I have been rowing for six years. Coming from Coleraine and rowing for Bann I have grown up knowing all about what Alan Campbell and the Chambers brothers have achieved,” he said.

“Being from the same town and I know them well and Peter is always giving me advice which keeps me right and on track.

“It’s nice to follow in their footsteps to some extend and it is hopefully the start of bigger and better things. They know I’m going and they are really behind me.

“It’s the first time I am representing Team GB and it will definitely get me motivated for the competition.

“Obviously we want to do as best as we can and we won’t know what the competition is like until we are out there but I would love to medal and win.”

Cassells has adjusted well to life in England as he earned Great British recognition within his first year of moving over from Northern Ireland.

But despite this whirlwind start to life across the Irish Sea Cassells is not about to get ahead of himself.

“It is my first year over here and I was taking it a day at a time so it is great to be recognised,” he added.

“I am from Northern Ireland so I came over here for university at Oxford Brookes and I have adjusted well.

“But for me Rio is too far away to look ahead. You need to break it up and achieve your goals and take each year and competition as it comes.”

The British Olympic Association prepares and leads British athletes at the summer, winter and youth Olympic Games. It works in partnership with sport National Governing Bodies to enhance Olympic success and is responsible for championing the Olympic values. www.olympics.org.uk