by Peter Bond.
After a dynamic gold medal performance at the NSW Championships ahead of interstate crews and an Australian representative oarsman, Endeavour’s Under 19 Double Scull was looking good for the Australian Championships. Then disaster struck – Jack suffered a back injury in training two weeks before the Nationals. Jack was unable to compete at the Central Districts Championships and the double was unable to row together for a fortnight except for one light paddle to test Jack’s back.
Three athletes represented Endeavour Rowing Club at the Nationals: Bec Davey in Womens Under 17 Single Sculls, Jack Davey in Mens Under 19 Single Sculls, Robert Weatherall in Schoolboy Single Sculls (competing as Maitland Grossmann High School) and Jack and Robert in Mens Under 19 Double Sculls.
With little experience over the 2000m course, Bec’s 5th place out of 7 in her heat was pleasing, although she did not progress from the repechage to the semi-finals. Jack was feeling pain from his back injury when he also placed 5th in his heat. This back pain intensified in the heats of the double scull, with the crew unable to race at their best and finishing fourth.
A visit to the regatta physio resulted in an analysis of rib strain with strapping being applied to spread the load and reduce the pain. In his repechage of the single, Jack lead for the first 1000m but was overtaken to finish fourth and miss the semi-finals. The repechage of the double was more successful with the Endeavour crew earning progression via a comfortable second place. In the semi-final, the double started well, being second over the first 500m, but the effects of back pain and the crew’s interrupted preparation saw them drop to fifth and miss the final by one place. If the crew had been able to repeat their performance from the state championships, they would have finished in the top half of the final with less than a second’s improvement required for a medal.
School events at the national regatta have a different format from the progressive eliminations experienced in the repechages and semi-finals of other events. The structure for school events uses the first three rounds to sort the competitors into seeded finals (A to F). Single sculling is not Robert’s strong point and the aim set for him by his coach was to make the D-Final although Robert aspired for the C. Unknown to the coach, Robert had also suffered a back injury; at work in the week before the championships. This showed up in the third round of the single where Robert was eager to gain progression to the C-Final. He lead after 500m but his back could not maintain the pressure and he had to settle for the D-Final. In that final, Robert rowed a better measured race, judging the right moment to apply the pressure and row through into second place.
After the 2018 National Championships, our Endeavour squad is left wondering ‘What could have been’ had injury not curtailed our preparation and hindered our performances? – we can only speculate!