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The weekend’s British Masters

I walked into Holme Pierrepoint last Sunday morning for the first time in nearly 25 years. And it’s fair to say that the immediate impact was to feel as if I’d been stung by a bee.

Just setting foot in the place carried me back to sitting a set of finals papers between outings –  what does studying its budget tell you about the European Union was one of the questions I recall – but it was some of the more calamitous moments sitting in a boat that really made me shudder. I took a fin off an eight there once in windy conditions. And I’d forgotten all about it until the weekend.

But unhappy memories were soon banished by a day at the British Masters Rowing Championships that put a smile on so many faces, and handing out medals on the pontoon to one delighted crew after another would have been enough to send anyone home with a spring in their step.

Among all of them, though, one stood out. As I handed a gold medal to the winning cox of a IV+ from Minerva Bath Rowing Club, I thought I was unlikely to find anyone more chuffed and emotional about victory for the rest of the day. But how wrong I was: by the time I had got down to the stroke man, the level of delight had reached a whole new peak.

I have no idea what the background story was, but clearly, the win meant an enormous amount: his sheer ecstasy could not, I think, have been bettered if he’d just won the Olympics. He kissed his medal and pumped his fists with more raw passion than I’ve seen in many years.

Well done that crew – and everyone who took part. But particularly well done to the volunteers who organised everything. You made a lot of people very happy!




Posted in My articles.

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