June 24, 2014 6:27 pm

Manitoba’s rich rowing history on display

Russ Hobson / Global News

Rowing has been apart of Manitoba’s landscape since the 1880’s and now the Manitoba Sports Hall Of Fame is paying tribute with the new “Rhapsody On The River” rowing exhibit.

Over 130 years of rowing history is on display from the evolution of oars to the Lipton Cup, one of the biggest trophies in all of sport.  Olympic rower Janine (Hanson) Stephens even has her own exhibit, making the difficult decision to temporarily part ways with her silver medal from the 2012 London summer games.

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“The medal was hard.” said Stephens.  “I have said if I need it I’ll come and pick it up.  But better here than in my sock drawer I suppose.”

But despite the sports deep roots in Manitoba, its a relatively small rowing community with only about a hundred competitive rowers at the rowing club.

“It’s really a small portion of people that row in Manitoba.” said Stephens.  “You row on the Red River.  Some people don’t like it.  I fell in it a couple times.  I’m still here to tell about it.”

And its typically an early morning sport which tends to scare some people away.

“Some people like to try and sleep in.” said Stephens. “But I will tell you I have had some of the most beautiful rows in the morning watching the sun rise. And just being out on the water, its so quiet and peaceful.  It’s a great sight.”

But the small number of rowers hasn’t prevented the province from producing some of the best.  Three Manitobans rowed in the last summer Olympics and the province has sent more athletes to the summer games in rowing than any other sport.

“We got some kids in the pipeline right now.” said Manitoba Rowing Association past president Andrew Lamont. “We have this big history of punching above our weight.  If you want to do the work we can get you to the national team.”

And the new exhibit might just inspire the next generation of rowers.  The exhibit is open until November the 8th.

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