Hello and welcome to the inaugural ‘Monday Meet-the-Rower,’ where we’ll be profiling some of the athletes supported by the Balmain Para-Rowing Program.
Today’s athlete is Kevin Wall – read on to find out more about the Irish Flyer!
“I have been around the rowing scene since I was twelve years old. I come from a family of rowers – two of my three siblings and I have represented Ireland in the sport and my father repaired racing boats in Clonmel, Ireland.
“My first experience was as a young coxswain where I was told by stroke “if I shout A move the pointer to the left and if I say B move it to the right”. From there on I was addicted and quickly started rowing myself in whatever boat I could get into.
“Although born with Cerebral Palsy, I always competed as an able bodied rower till much later in my rowing career, achieving results any rower would be pleased with.
“From 2006 to 2008 I spent more time coaching under 18 year old rowers than rowing myself. I was also vice-captain of Clonmel Rowing Club for the 2008 and 2009 Seasons. Having gained a coaching certificate in 2007 and an umpire’s licence in 2008, I went from driving the officials’ launches at Championship regattas as a junior to umpiring the champions.
“In 2009/2010 I walked away from the sport until in 2011 while on a working holiday in Bunbury in WA, I considered taking up rowing again. The great weather gave me a thirst for rowing so I introduced myself to Bunbury Rowing Club.
“I was persuaded by my family to row in the para-rowing class. I decided I should no longer hide my disability, contacted the Irish Amateur Rowing Union and was invited to test for a place in the already assembled the Irish LTA boat that was formed for the 2012 London Paralympic team. With the support and intense coaching for my then coach, Glenys Hough at Bunbury Rowing Club, I achieved my goal. In May 2013 I received my 1st Irish cap in Varase, Italy but missed inclusion in the London Paralympic crew by a few seconds.”
“I find with the sun on my back (unlike Ireland) it has given me that thirst to get involved once again.”
Kevin is also a local hero back in his home town of Clonmel after his quick actions, while out rowing, saved a father and son who were thrown into the water of the River Suir when their boat capsized. Now living in Sydney, Kevin is an active member of the program.
In 2017, Kevin became an Australian Citizen, after a long journey which began in 2013 after coming back to Australia. Kevin has since won numerous state and national level medals, and represented his former state of Western Australia as part of the Balmain Para-Rowing Program at the 2017 National Championships and Interstate Regatta, winning the Bronze Medal. Kevin was also selected in the boat which trialed for the Australian Rowing Team’s 2017 world championships effort, and won the Balmain Rowing Club overall point score earlier this year.