Bann’s Olympic joy.

Bann’s Olympic joy.

2012 will undoubtedly go down in history as Bann’s greatest ever year.  The incredible success story started with us winning the British schools championship in the MJ18 pairs over in Nottingham, and continued when head coach Seamus Reynolds brought the OLYMPIC Torch across the River Bann in front of 6,000 cheering supporters. In front of this massive, happy, crowd the Bann men’s J16 eight retained the Craig Cup for a record fourth consecutive time, and the Bann WJ18 Ladies eight retained the “Cookstown Cup”.

But the Club’s juggernaut success story just kept on accelerating. At the2012 Irish Rowing Championships in Cork, Bann delivered 3 golds from the Ladies events and their men’s junior 18 pair re-wrote the record books, by winning the Irish Senior Championships.  International selection and success followed with “big” Chris Alcorn stoking Ireland to a gold and silver in the “Homes” and Emily Hutchinson winning silver and bronze at the same Regatta. Sarah Allen and Brook Edgar both gained Irish L’Coupe selection and Brook medalled at this European level. Now, there still remained a visit to the Club from the Prime Minister, the Olympics and the J18 World Championships!

At the greatest and best Olympics in history,  on the biggest platform in sport, the three, young, local men, Alan, Richard and Peter all rowed themselves to a complete standstill, and won not only their three Olympic medals, but also, the whole of Coleraine’s  and the whole of the country’s support and respect .

The biggest ever crowd assembled at the Bann boathouse to welcome the heroes home, and found them,  as always, brilliant, modest ambassadors for their families, Bann Rowing Club, the town of Coleraine and the whole sport of Rowing. No excuses, no complaining or wimping, just genuine respect for all their opponents and delight with their Olympic success. From the London Olympics, the three Coleraine rowers had returned with three Olympic medals for our town! Then, the whole town did us proud by again turning out in their thousands, braving the torrential rain, to give the Olympians an unforgettable welcome home. Coleraine gladly ground to a delighted halt, as a mass of umbrellas seemed to take over the whole Diamond/ Town hall area.

The Minister for the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure, visited Bann and congratulated the Olympians and the Bann Club in person. She inspected Bann’s boathouse and the facilities where they had forged their rowing apprenticeships and has agreed to initiate, with the Borough Council, major help to the club to create a sustainable rowing legacy at Bann.

Throughout the marvellous homecoming day, and the Civic reception, the three Olympians kept asking about how the Bann team, of coach Seamus Reynolds, with young rowers Chris Black and Joel Cassells, were doing out at the World J18 Championships in Bulgaria? Fantastic news soon followed that they had won two of their four World Championship races, came a fabulous seventh in the World and had recorded the whole regatta’s second fastest time of 6:47, in their very final race together. Bann’s London Olympian heroes went ecstatic, and who knows how many Bann men, and maybe Bann Ladies as well, we will see rowing at Rio !!

August 22nd, 2012

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