This past weekend has been a historic one for Durham University Boat Club. A weekend of appreciation of ex-Durham students who have gone on to do great things as athletes and coaches alike on the olympic stage.
To launch the celebrations, an intimate dinner was held in honour of long time club benefactor Robert Gillespie on Friday evening. In the atmosphere of Durham Castle’s Senate Room, guests enjoyed the company of Mr Gillespie as well as Durham alumni and London Olympians Sophie Hosking, Stephen Rowbotham, Louisa Reeve and Olympic coach Rob Morgan.
This dinner was also a special yet unexpected reward for two of the newest members of the rowing fraternity, having just completed testing for this year’s DUBC Fresher Squad, our top male and female freshers Olivia White and Ben Lewis attended the dinner alongside coaches, student administrators and key members of the rowing community. With speeches short but food and wine plentiful everyone enjoyed the evening. Professor David Held (University College Master) rounded the night off nicely with a rare personal tour to the Castle’s Norman chapel.
Rob Morgan is the coach responsible for the Lightweight mens four silver medal in the 2012 Olympics. On Saturday morning, Durham students were given an insight of how he managed to bring the best out of his crew. It was a fascinating presentation, in which he elaborated on the finer technical points of rowing techniques and , most memorably, explaining the importance of self respect as an athlete, no matter what the adversity.
Saturday afternoon brought DUBC to the banks of the Wear for an afternoon of “friendly” racing. Five eights, in combinations of current DUBC athletes, alumni and olympians raced furiously down the familier stretch of river. Although racing was in some cases extremely closely competed, the spills eventually went to the eight led by World medallist Louisa Reeve. A special thank you at this point for the bakers and caterers who kept the attendees well fed during the afternoons activities.
Saturday evening brought with it the annual DUBC Ball, held in grandiose Great Hall in University College. Along with the usual feeding and watering that one can always rely on, it was Olympic Sculler, Steve Rowbotham who gave the speech at the end of the evening. He told the story of his rowing career, of how he started at Durham, went on to struggle with over-training during his hunt for u23 Worlds selection and of his ultimate success in proving to his coaches that he was the man for the job. He then reminded us all that as rowers we will never forget the experiences of our respective careers, no matter the longevity, and that they should be cherished.
The weekend’s celebrations were wrapped up with the official opening of the Sophie Hosking Rowing Tank on the Sunday morning. The 2012 Gold medallist was on hand herself to try out the facility for herself, alongside DUBC’s other current olympics, including the present head Coach! Palatinate blades were also presented to the all of DUBC’s olympians, past and present, and they are to adorn the walls of the rowing tank.
The events of the weekend reminded the Club that its heritage is something to be proud of, and that DUBC has the capability to produce more olympians for the future.
credit to North News & Pictures for the images, and thanks to Cameron Kennedy, new Women’s coach, for the piece on Friday’s dinner