Rowers second & third in Canada

Gaels overcome challenges to medal in B.C

The rowing teams traveled to Fort Langley, B.C. for the Canadian University Rowing Championships last weekend and came away with a second-place overall finish on the women’s side and a third-place finish on the men’s.

Head coach John Armitage said the team’s depth was impressive, as they were the only university to make the finals in all 12 events in the championships.

“As a team, we showed a lot of consistency,” he said.

Armitage said the team could have done better, though.

“Across the board, our performance was good, but I wouldn’t say it was great,” he said.

The Western Mustangs claimed both national titles, but Queen’s men and women defeated Western in the Ontario championships over the previous weekend. Armitage attributed the loss to the drastically different composition of the events in each championship and the tighter eligibility restrictions at the Canadian championships.

“I wouldn’t characterize it as disappointing, because at the Ontario championships we’ve got a totally different team structure,” he said. “When we go to the Canadians, we’ve got to shorten our bench to 12 athletes and one coxswain. The different level of the events is geared more to international rowing than the OUA.”

Armitage said the smaller number of lightweight events at the nationals put Queen’s at a disadvantage.

“We’re very, very strong with our lightweight men and women, and that strength gets diluted when we go to the Canadians,” he said. “Western are stronger than us in the heavyweight category.”

Armitage said the women’s team almost repeated as national champions this year, though.

“It came down to the final race of the day, which was the women’s eight,” he said. “Last year, we finished second and that put us over the top to win the overall title. … This year, we ended up fifth, and I would think that the rowers in the boat were disappointed in that performance, but at the same time, they didn’t row a bad race. They got beat by better people.”

Armitage said it was somewhat difficult for the athletes to adjust to their new rowing partners, as the lack of lightweight eight races at the nationals meant some lightweight rowers moved into the heavyweight eight boats.

“With our women, four of the rowers in the eight were lightweights and with the men, two of the rowers in the eight were lightweights,” he said. “These are crews that are racing with two or three days of practice together.” Armitage said the Gaels’ results are very impressive, though, considering that Queen’s is one of the few Canadian universities that competes at a high level in rowing without any full-time coaches.

“The difference is that they have the time to recruit, to talk to athletes one-on-one while I’m at my day job,” he said. “If we want to continue this success, we need a full-time coach. ... But here we are, little old Queen’s, 23 universities, and we’re second and third this year, first and second last year. We’re just a bunch of volunteers doing the best we can, and I’m pretty proud of our coaches.”

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