We asked ourselves when we first started the program why it is that PR2 and PR1 para athletes are seemingly discriminated against by being made to row heavy wide hulled boats that lack the ability to run, that provide no moment where the skill and technique of that rower is given the opportunity to shine at competition.
We investigated what was behind the heavy hulls. Was it a terrible accident that occurred during training or competition where a PR2 or PR1 para rower was further injured or was it that the thinner lighter hulled boats caused more physical discomfort. We found no such thing, in fact we found the complete opposite. Peter Taylor, an AS or the new PR1 Australian para athlete flew down the course in a standard single scull and did so without issue according to his coach at the time, Neil Holmes. Neil said “Peter had no trouble rowing a standard boat, he rowed beautifully and we never had an issue. ” Peter took up rowing in 1998 and had a most successful career rowing out of the Nepean Rowing Club.
Last year we mounted a campaign through our facebook page and addressed to the FISA Extraordinary Congress and asked for more races at international regattas for our athletes; a standard racing course of 2km and a choice of hull at these International competitions. FISA Extraordinary Congress passed the additional races and we now have single events in the PR2 category, pairs racing for the PR3 men and women, as well as the standard PR1 single, PR2 double, PR3 double and PR3 coxed four.
We didn’t find success in choice of hull and we still watch our athletes being denied the right of their able bodied athletes to compete locally at our very own Nationals in the PR2 or PR1 category unless they are connected with a club that has the financial resources to buy a heavy wide hull. For those that race locally our own State organisation recognises and supports the philosophy that all should have the right to row, that as long as the hull is safe they can compete and that no one will be denied the opportunity to savour the joys of competition.
Today we’ve received a wonderful article from the March edition of Rowing News and it provides more food for thought on this topic. We hope you enjoy the read as much as we have. If you feel as we do that hull choice should be changed then we’ve just under four years to press for change. Let’s open the doors of every rowing shed to everyone that wants to experience the art and science of this wonderful sport; we can only do this by recognising that every shell can be made to accommodate every rower irrespective of disability.
Together, let’s do it !