On Saturday, Clonmel Rowing Club members Alex Chadfield, Ryan McKenna, Alan Prendergast and past member Shauna Carew, joined the rest of the Irish Home International Rowing Squad at the National Water Sports Centre in Nottingham to compete against International crews representing England, Scotland and Wales.
The families, club coaches and supporters who travelled to Nottingham were rewarded with a fantastic day’s racing in perfect rowing conditions, although the dominance of the English team was disheartening.
Alan was the first Clonmel man on the water, and he put in an excellent performance to come in a very close second in the Men’s Lightweight Scull.
Race number 10, the Men’s Junior Pairs, started not long after, with supporters listening closely to the race commentary for the first 1000m of the 2km course.
By the time the boats had reached the 1km mark, Alex and Ryan were in the lead in a closely contested race.
They maintained a punishing stroke rate, increasing their lead inch by inch, and had their very vocal support club roaring encouragement by the time they reached the 75m mark.
At the 50m mark, the entire Irish crowd were on their feet cheering, and the moment they crossed the finish line in a time of 7.00 minutes, the cheering was deafening.
The presentation of their gold medals was made immediately after the race, and Alex and Ryan made certain that the announcer introduced them as being from Clonmel Rowing Club, winners for Ireland (despite the race commentator having been unaware of our club’s existence!).
It was a fantastic achievement, and to see the expressions on the boys faces as the sound of the Irish national anthem echoed across the water was a proud and emotional moment for us all.
The win for Alex and Ryan was all the sweeter, since they had overcome the bitter disappointment of a second place the weekend before at the Irish National Rowing Championships.
Their emphatic win as Irish Squad members is testament to their determination, total commitment to an extremely challenging training regime and sheer hard work, and a fulfilling reward for their Coach, Jimmy Fennessy, who has trained the boys since they joined the club at age 13; as well as Support Coaches Sham Anderson and Susan Allen.
Our rowers will take a well earned rest for the remaining weeks of the summer, to perhaps enjoy some junk food and even the chance of a social life - as will the Coaches and parents!