Royal Liberty School race to victory at EDF Energy rowing challenge
Tuesday, 08 May 2012
May 8 - Dozens of schoolchildren from the Host Olympic Boroughs have raced today on the rowing course for the Olympic and Paralympics this summer at Eton Dorney for the final of the EDF Energy community rowing challenge.
The event took place this here with the Royal Liberty School from Havering racing to a convincing victory.
After the race, the schools were presented with awards by EDF chief executive Vincent de Rivas, Olympic five-time gold medallist Sir Steve Redgrave and triple Olympic silver medallist Katherine Grainger.
"The boys did so well, they really did," Royal Liberty's coach from London Youth Rowing, Barbara Clarkson, told insidethegames.
"It was good teamwork, they really worked together, it is not just going to be who goes fastest.
"It was going to be who did the best technique and they really did that.
"They were the strongest team on the water and won by a mile, which is great."
Royal Liberty beat Palmer Catholic Academy from Ilford, Stepney Green School from Tower Hamlets, Connaught Girls from Waltham Forest and Homerton's Cardinal Pole to the prize.
"We are delighted but tired at the same time," added Sebastian Adams, part of the winning crew.
"We were all prepared, mentally and physically, and I think that was what helped us win.
"We were confident but not too over confident."
The event was a key part of EDF's activation plans in the build up to this summer's Olympic and Paralympics, for which they are a sustainability partner.
Last week they announced an energy supply contract for the Olympic Park with 80 per cent nuclear and 20 per cent renewable sources, to help London 2012 become the first truly sustainable Games.
Through the event EDF claimed they were they helping London 2012 achieve another of their key legacy promises – to inspire a generation through sport.
EDF are also installing new sustainable lighting on London's Tower Bridge and has an educational programme – Get Set, which has engaged millions of schoolchildren.
EDF's London 2012 project manager Gareth Wynn told insidethegames: "One of the ways you can inspire people is through initiatives like this which bring us into contact with young people.
"The mechanism of sport and London 2012 is a tool by which we can engage people.
"That is something they are going to talk about for years, saying I rowed on the Olympic course just before London 2012 and met Katherine Grainger, who is a good prospect for a medal, hopefully a gold in a few weeks, and Steve Redgrave, who has been there and done it five times.
"To meet those two and have a go at the course...it is something I wish I could have done."
Double world champion Grainger watched as the teams raced down the course, she hopes to pick up a first Olympic gold medal on this summer, and said that the experience would put the youngsters in good stead for the future.
"It was just really lovely to see," she told insidethegames.
"Imagine the opportunity, irrespective of the result, they gain so much.
"This is something very close to my heart and I think as an athlete I am so aware of the benefits rowing has brought me and it is a genuine opportunity for children and schools who would never have got that opportunity otherwise.
"You could see the excitement they had and the experience it was, they will be three months they will remember."
Also heavily involved in today's event from the start was French Sydney 2000 gold medal winner Jean Cristophe Rolland, who has been involved with EDF's London 2012 programme.
"We wanted to make a concrete project in sport as obviously EDF is an official partner of London 2012 and we wanted to create something linked with sport but with another angle," he told insidethegames.
"When you see these teams today it is fantastic to see how much they have improved in such a short space of time.
"It was part of the project to ensure that the kids would be committed, would participate and attend sessions, and to progress to be able to row on the Olympic venue.
"From the first session to now they have improved a lot and especially the winning team in terms of technique was absolutely brilliant."
February 2012: Aggar, Grainger and Rolland to help train future rowing stars