BANN’S three great hopes for the London Olympics, big Alan Campbell, along with Peter and Richard Chambers, took centre stage at this year’s Bann’s Boxing Day scratch races.
Tension mounted as the draw for the crews was made by club president, Bobbie Platt MBE, and to ensure complete fairness, it was all televised live by the BBC!
Alan with his very determined crew was in the first race of the day, and as always , the sudden death, one loss and you are eliminated format, seemed to affect everyone’s nerves.
After all that training and seven barren years in this historic event, would big Alan, the newly crowned, king of the Boston scull trials, finally come good?
As usual his faithful parents Jennifer and William were there to cheer him on, as they do at all his World Cup and Championship endeavours, and this year they were accompanied by Alan’s glowing wife Jules. No pressure then Alan.
Sure enough after a tremendous tussle big Alan’s crew were just pipped at the post. Next year, we all hope, as the reigning Olympic open weight single sculling champion, Alan has vowed to return and win ‘the big one’.
It was now left to a very young, smiling Peter Chambers to take up the celebrity challenge. Calmly, Peter broke off from his autograph signing for all the Bann young lady rowers, and hopped like a gazelle into his boat, which sped down the course to easily qualify for the semi-finals.
With Peter’s big brother Richard, and his coach Seamus Reynolds on starter and umpire duties, who would bet against young Peter capping his fabulous year with a career defining win in the Bann Boxing day races?
The Chambers support crew led by mum Gillian, sister Rebekah, and sister-in-law Abigail, with young nephew Joshua, would ensure that Peter would have a real go at winning this top prize.
After Peter’s swift elimination in his next race, it became obvious that’s Bann’s local developing talent was just too good.
The grand finale saw three magnificent crews of Bann’s elite rowers, including veterans and ladies, along with a young “Inst” powerhouse, compete in an exhilarating race.
After a dead level start, young stroke man Willy McCloskey’s aggression, combined with “wonder woman” Cox Lydia’s Fleming’s deadly accurate steering, eventually won the day.
The winning crew were carried shoulder high into the packed Bann Clubhouse, where the captain Keith Leighton made an excellent, short speech.
Keith revealed that with fifty-six rowers, this was Bann’s biggest ever Boxing Day regatta. He wished Alan, Peter and Richard all the very best for the forthcoming Olympics, and thanked Amanda Francis, who had travelled from Florida to compete in this year’s event.
He also thanked Cookstown for sponsoring the Club, and this most successful event.
The Champers Pairs Ladder trophy was then presented to Bann’s double European Champion Chris Black, and the Alan Campbell Diamond Cup for single sculls, was presented to Bann’s other double European champion Joel Cassells.
Despite atrocious weather conditions this was the best ever Boxing Day regatta at Bann.