1991 World Championships Vienna. Talent Id Program

With the World Championships at Barrington in November 1990, no sooner had they concluded than selection trials for the 1991 World Championships in Vienna commenced. Again committing an incredible amount of time, effort, energy and travel to various regattas Tim Wise again earned selection in a Lightweight double scull with Sam Golding as his partner. Danny Elliott was selected as coach and the double trained over one of Ballarat’s coldest winters to compete at the World Championships in Vienna. Again an even smaller contingent of supporters went to Vienna to support the crew who finished in 7th place winning the B Final. All who watched them train through winter; especially their coach knew that the crew were capable of making the final and medalling. They missed out on their chance by 0.18 of a second.

Unfortunately in training camp before they left Australia, one of the lightweight quad for the World championships had stress fractures of the ribs. Sam Golding was taken from the double scull to replace him in the quad. This left Tim without anyone to train with and no boat to train in and despite questioning this decision with the hierarchy, nobody was able to or willing to resolve this. We got his scull up to Sydney but essentially the double had been totally derailed. Because stress fractures take so long to heal, Sam for all intents and purposes, was now a part of the quad to race at the World Championships. This also meant that the Sykes double scull that they had been training in didn’t get shipped to Vienna as they wouldn’t be racing it. Then at the end of two weeks, it was announced that the stress fractures had “miraculously” healed and Sam was out of the quad and the original sculler back in. Mentally and physically the crew and coach had been dealt a body blow that would be almost imposssible to recover from. What was supposed to be a final honing of the crew turned into a demoralizing debacle. The team left for overseas a week later and when they got to Sursee in Switzerland, where the Australian crew were training, they had to hire a boat and get used to that. Danny knew from the times they had been posting back on the Lake prior to the fateful training camp that they were a world class double. They ended up winning the B final in a time that would have won them a bronze medal in the final. There is no doubt that these events at a critical time in their preparation denied this crew their best performance and consequently a medal.

In club rowing we scored 34 wins for the season making us the most successful women’s country club for the sixth year in succession. We again came second on the women’s Champion Club premiership. Our state Championship wins were again excellent with five state titles won. Anne Power and Marion Taffe won the Champion Junior Pairs and then Champion Junior Scull and Champion Schoolgirl scull respectively. Tim Wise added to his already impressive list of state Championships teaming with long time friend and honorary club member Don Cochrane (now rowing for Essendon) to win the Senior A double Sculls Championship at Carrum. Anthony Edwards in his first season at the club won the Champion Senior C sculls.

A large contingent of members attended the King’s Cup and National Regatta in Adelaide and for the first time in three years we were blessed with perfect weather and fair and fast water. Of nine entries, club crews and scullers won through to eight finals. Anthony Edwards collected the club’s fifth Australian Championship winning the Lightweight Senior B sculls. Tim Wise finished fifth in the most competitive field in the regatta the Men’s Senior A sculls with only 0.07 seconds covering first to fifth. Both performances impressed selectors so that both scullers were invited to trial for the Australian team. Bernie Wise and Marion Taffe also performed creditably finishing third in the Lightweight senior B pairs. They were the first club crew home beaten by two Institute of Sport crews. Anne Power also finished third in the Schoolgirl sculls. Bronwyn Thompson who had trained for a while as a member of Ballarat City and now on a scholarship to the AIS also won a National Championship and was selected to compete in the Australian Junior team to compete at Banyoles in Spain.

In July 1991 we began our Talent Identification Program after much hard work going into schools promoting, testing and ultimately selecting a squad of 14 boys and girls. Dr. Warren Payne of the University  of Ballarat, gave invaluable time and assistance, as did Bernie Wise who also oversaw training for three weeks while squad coach Kate Elliott was overseas in Vienna. The squad were: Rachel Taylor, Renee Taylor, Jo Clegg, Raelene Pocock, Kellie Scholte, Heather Murray, Aaron Block, Leigh Crouch, Nigel Vennell, Danny Houlihan, Andrew Harrington, Michael Preston, Richard Jackson and Jordan Bunn. Celsete O’Keefe was selected as coxswain for the girls and Andrew Torney was selected to steer the boys. They were affectionately and collectively know as “The Tips”.

A long wet cold winter was spent teaching the squad to row and building up basic fitness. Slowly the group settled down to hard work,crews were selected and on water training began in earnest!The first regatta attended was Horsham. With great trepidation the coach, Kate Elliott, handed out an almost minute by minute running sheet-when to warm-up, when to eat lunch, what time to get the boat on the water, reminders to drink water and replace sunblock etc.etc. All went pretty smoothly and the girls crew actually won their very first race in Under 16 competition. All the other crews performed exceedingly well. The girl’s four went on to win every race they entered for the season, except for two and then they placed second. One of the second placings was in the Victorian Champion Junior fours when they were just beaten by a more experienced crew from Geelong College. It was always a struggle to get finance to adequately fund the program. The VRA loaned the club its fleet of 12 tub sculls in order to run the Talent Identification program.

The club had made up a set of quad scull riggers to fit the coxless four. This certainly added variety to training for our scullers. Ballarat Theatre School continued their long-term lease of the hall and the steady income stream permitted the club to meet its running costs. Extensive and exhaustive fundraising was also necessary for new equipment and again took up the energies and time of the committee. We managed to raise $4000 to assist Tim Wise and Danny Elliott with their $5000 a head Australian team contribution. We ran our Cake Stalls at Wendouree Village and raised $1500.Members also managed to sell 800 boxes of M&M’s for a good profit. Unfortunately again all approaches for sponsorship proved fruitless.

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