Beijing gold medallist attends inaugural Greater Manchester Rowing Festival

2008 Olympic gold medallist in rowing Tom James was one of 300 people who attended the the Greater Manchester Rowing Festival, an innovative new event designed to encourage young people to take up indoor rowing, which was held yesterday, Monday 9 February, 2009.

James, who took up rowing while at school in Chester, joined hundreds of young people at the Manchester Velodrome for the Festival, which was the first rowing festival ever to be held in the region.

The youngsters, aged between twelve and fifteen, were representing over 40 school from across the Greater Manchester area including Salford, Stockport, Trafford, Manchester, Tameside, Bolton, Bury, Oldham and Rochdale.

The impressive number of entrants reflects the ever-increasing level of interest in indoor rowing, which can be done as part of a fitness regime or simply to improve general health. The whole-body workout is low-impact which makes it suitable for people of all ages.

Children who enjoy the Festival will be encouraged to continue indoor rowing at school or at their local gym, and will also be advised where their nearest outdoor rowing club is.

Matt Stocks, Senior Competition Manager from the Greater Manchester Sports Partnership, said: “The county is really excited about this new event. It was an incredible sight, with huge screens showing rowers in action and hundreds of children battling it out in the competition. Following the success of the GB Rowing Team in Beijing, now is a great time to capture that energy and transfer the interest that young people have in rowing into action.  We hope that young people saw the day as a challenge, a team event and most importantly, fun.  

"We hope that this event will become a regular feature on the Greater Manchester sports calendar and we look forward to the continuation of the partnership between GreaterSport, the Amateur Rowing Association and Concept 2 in bringing great sports opportunities for children to life.”

Simon Dickie of the Amateur Rowing Association said "We hope that everyone enjoyed the day. We look forward to working with GreaterSport, the Manchester boroughs, and local schools to develop rowing as both a sport and a physical activity. As a result of their experience today we hope that some youngsters will go to a ‘taster-session’ in water-based rowing at Agecroft Rowing Club in Salford, Hollingworth Lake Rowing Club in Rochdale or Trafford Rowing Club in Trafford."

As part of the festival, a selection of influential individuals in sport from across Manchester were invited to attend a VIP reception at the event. It is hoped that the reception will provide an opportunity to consider ways of introducing rowing to schools on a more structured basis.

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