Sixathletesassociated withGriffith have been selected in theUnder 23 (U23),Under 21 (U21)and Under 19 (U19)Australian Rowing Teams to compete at the World Rowing Cup 3 Simulation Regatta in Juneatthe 2000 Sydney Olympics rowing venuein Penrith.

The crews were determined after rowersparticipated in trialsat Lake Barrington, Tasmania, following the 2021 Aon Australian Rowing Championships.

Danica Free after competing in Tasmania

Five currentGriffithstudentsgot the nod, withCormac Kennedy-Leverett(Bachelor of Engineering Hons)selected in the U23 Men’s single scull, Danica Free(Bachelor of Engineering Hons)making the U21 women’s quad scull, Lachlan Wright(Bachelor of Business)selected for the U19 men’s coxless four, Miller Rowe(Bachelor of Business)in the U23 men’s coxed eight and Anna Blackwell(Bachelor of Exercise Science)the U21 women’s coxed eight.

Lachlan Wright and Mackenzie Branch after winning Gold in the U19 Mens Pair in Tasmania. Image Copyright RA Linda Higginson

Mackenzie Branch, who trains withGriffith UniversitySurfers ParadiseRowingClub,was alsoselectedin theU19 men’s coxless four.

The simulation regattais the last of the season,a final chance for junior athletes to post their best performances.

Itwill also feature Australia’s Senior Australian Rowing Team crews, as they prepare for the rescheduled Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Recent Griffith graduateMolly Goodman(Bachelor of Criminology and Criminal Justice), whoisbased at theWomen’sNationalTraining Centre in Penrith,hasa nervous wait to confirmherlikely Olympic spot, withselectors to announce the teamin June.

Unfortunately, talented fellow graduateGeorgina Gotch (Bachelor of Business)has suffered a back injury, ruling her out of contention.

Ahead of the official Olympic team announcement,Director Sports Engagement at Griffith,Duncan FreeOAMandHead Rowing Coach at Griffith Sports College,Lincoln Handley,havealreadybeen named as Australian coaches.

Duncan Free OAM

Olympic GoldMedalist(Rowing)Freewill coach theU19 mens coxless four.

I’ve representedAustraliaa number of times,but this is the first time officially as a coach so its going to be a new experience for me, sittingon the other side of the fenceand I’m looking forward to it,” he said.

It’s a bit of astrange feeling because when you push your crew off the bank and they row up to the start line youalmostfeel a little bit useless because there’s nothing more you can do.

Itis up to the athlete to perform at that point although you still get nervous for them.

Free says being selectedfor the simulation regatta is an excellent training opportunity.

“I think it’s a great experience for our younger ones to compete against ourOlympic athletes,” he added.

“We are actually trying to get theNew Zealandrowers to come over as well, given the travel bubble opening up.

“It would be wonderful if theNZrowing team, whether it be theOlympic or the under aged teams, could join us becausetheyare quite strong in rowing and have been for the last couple ofOlympic cycles.

Ialsothink given the circumstance of not being able to go and race overseas(due to Covid)it would be a wonderful experience.”

“The regatta will provide our pathway teams the chance to compete against our top elite crews as they prepare to take on the world in Tokyo,” Rowing Australia Deputy Performance Director, Jaime Fernandez, said.

Griffith University Surfers Paradise Rowing Club coach Lincoln Handley

Lincoln Handleyagrees the simulation regatta will be a wonderful opportunity for Griffith’syoungathletes.

“It’s a great result for the club, the program, and the dedication of our volunteer coaches,” he said.

“The success of the club at the recent national championships reflects the supportive and collegiate culture we have been working so hard on.

“In lots of ways the challenges of 2020 enabled us to better prepare our athletes with more flexible university and work schedules. They were able to train harder and longer which has been reflected in this year’s team selection.

“If we can continue to enable a study / training / life balance for this group, we could see some great results down the track from these talented athletes.”

Handley’s AustralianParalympicrowershave onelastevent beforeOlympicselections are announced.

“The Para athletes I have worked with train exceptionally hard for the challenges they face,” he added.

“They are a refreshing group to work with as they push their own boundaries at every opportunity and keep things very much in perspective for me. All athletes challenge my thinking in someway,but the para group have me out of the box a lot.”

The Universityhasenjoyed anaming rights partnership with Griffith University Surfers Paradise Rowing Club for around 15 years.

Current Griffith students selected for the Simulation Regatta Cormac Kennedy-Leverett, Danica Free and Lachlan Wright arealsomembers of the club.Bond University student Mackenzie Branch trains alongside them at the club.

“This a is keypartnershipfor Griffith whichprovides a supportivepathway for school rowers that wish to continue to compete and develop in the sport,” Duncan Free said.

Griffith Sports College currently supportsmore than600 athletes juggling what can be a challenging combination of study and elite sport commitments.

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