BOTTESFORD junior rower Callum Jones’ week at the Olympic rowing venue, Dorney, Eton, representing Great Britain in the World Rowing Junior (Under -9) Championships was both exciting and very competitive.
Representing GB at this event is the ambition of the country’s top youth rowers as a stepping stone to the full senior team. More than 1,000 of the best young athletes from 48 countries contested junior men’s and women’s sculling and rowing events. The event was also used by the London Olympic Committee to test facilities and arrangements for the 2012 Olympics.
Callum was selected to row in the coxless four and during the training for the event in the week prior to the championships Callum was moved from the three-seat to stroke, and also given the added responsibility to steer the boat as in coxless boats one of the rowers operates the rudder control with his foot.
Callums’ 16th birthday coincided with the day of the opening ceremony, making him not only the youngest of GB’s junior men but the youngest male sweep oar rower in the whole championships.
In hot and humid conditions on Wednesday, Callum’s GB four needed to finish first or second in their heat to head straight into the semi-finals, however they finished third behind Belarus and Croatia, but beat Denmark and Bulgaria.
There were heavy, rainy conditions for the following day’s repechage in which GB were second to Greece, beating Poland, Australia, Bulgaria and South Africa to reach the semi-finals by the back door.
Friday’s semi-finals saw Callum’s GB four produce their best performance, as they needed to finish in the first three to qualify for the ‘A’ final.
Serbia led from the start but GB stayed closely alongside them, holding second place over most of the 2km course. GB were still running second going into the last 150 metres but Romania and Belarus both squeezed past to push Callum’s four back into fourth place in a photo finish, with barely a second splitting the three boats. Canada and the USA were fifth and sixth respectively. GB’s time in the semi final was their best of the competition at 6min 13.06sec.
Very disappointed at losing out by such a narrow margin, Callum’s GB four then rowed in the ‘B’ final in their fourth consecutive day of racing, but were unable to match their previous day’s performance, finishing fourth behind Greece, Canada and Poland but beating Denmark and USA, putting them in 10th position overall. As in so many of the events, the gold medal for winners of the ‘A’ final went to Germany.