OLYMPICS:‘Grand pere’ of local rowing cheering on the ‘Coleraine Three’

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AS Bobby Platt often says there must be something in the Bann water!

The ‘grandfather’ of Coleraine rowing will watch with immense pride when our three rowing Olympians line up at London’s Eton Dorney venue.

Bobby was thrilled when three Coleraine Inst ‘old boys’ - Richard Archibald, Alan Campbell and Richard Chambers, rowed at the Beijing Olympics.

And he says he will again watch with great interest to see how Campbell performs in the single sculls and brothers Peter and Richard Chambers get on with their GB team-mates Chris Bartley and Rob Williams in the lightweight fours.

“It’s just fantastic, all three boys have done very well and it’s great for all the boys at Bann Rowing Club who coached and brought them through from a young age,” said Bobby, who was awarded the MBE in the New Year’s Honours List for services to the sport.

Bobby, who turned 90 in February, spent 24 years coaching at Coleraine Inst and saw with his own eyes the tremendous potential of Alan Campbell as a teenager.

“I remember him winning his first race at a Coleraine regatta and also taking him to Cork for the Irish National Championships.

“He really put a lot of work into the single sculls, that was what he was most keen on. He won the Junior 16 sculls in Cork and also finished fourth in the Junior 18s event.

“Even at that age you could see that Alan had great potential, he had great determination and a willingness to work hard.”

Richard began rowing at the age of 15 under the watchful eye of Bobby at Coleraine Inst. In 2003 he moved to Oxford Brookes University and joined the U23 team in 2005, where he won silver in the men’s lightweight quad.

“I watched Richard also develop very, very well and of course young Peter came to Bann from the Integrated College. It’s been fantastic to see how these boys have developed and gone onto achieve so much on the international and world scene.”

Bobby Platt has been involved with the Bann Rowing Club since the early 1940s, firstly as an oarsman and then as a coach and administrator.

He captained the club in 1959/60 and again for a record 10-year spell from 1972 and is also a former club president.

Bobby agrees that the current generation of rowers represents a golden age for Coleraine rowing.

However he added: “In the past there weren’t the same number events or championships that there are now, it was a different time.

“Up to the Second World War Bann was the best club in Ireland. Of course Bann has had rowers at the Olympic in the past.

“Dan Taylor - a cousin of the local solicitor and JP Dan MacLaughlin - rowed for Ireland in an Eight crew in the 1948 Olympics in London.

“It’s amazing how our boys and the coaching they have had has progressed. I’ll be watching their progress and hoping they do well. They’re great ambassadors for Coleraine.”