It was quite the weekend for several Team Manitoba rowers at the 136th edition of the Henley Regatta in St. Catharines, Ont.
Team Manitoba rowed their way to five first place finishes in the prestigious event, which attracts thousands of male and female athletes from more than 150 clubs across North America.
Michelle Truax led the way with three plaques, including the senior women’s single. Truax also teamed up with Rianne Boekhorst to finish first in the Senior Women’s Pair and Championship Women’s pair events.
Abby Dent won the U17 single event and also partnered with Justine Gillert to capture top spot in the U19 Doubles race.
Team Manitoba Rowing Coach Janine Stephens (nee Hanson) is a former Olympic silver medalist from 2012 in London and said the success this past weekend is a combination of the athletes’ hard work and “hopefully” some of her coaching.
“They just had great race after great race. Some of them exceeded my expectations. You coach them and you can see what they can do on water. But on race day you just hope they can put it all together.”
Stephens said rowing is going through a bit of a renaissance in Winnipeg right now, especially for female athletes.
“We’ve seen a big growth this year of 13-14 year-old women. I would say a few guys are coming on board,” saidStephens. “But we have a large group of that age group of women.
“It seems to be they’re either reaching the end of another sport or just looking for something different- or not maybe loving their current situation in another sport and just looking for something new.”
Stephens said she’s eager to start working with some of these younger athletes to prepare them for the Western Canadian Summer Games next year in Swift Current, Sask. and then the 2021 Canada Summer games in the Niagara, Ont. region.