Aberdeen’s universities invest in High Performance Rowing Coach

Aberdeen’s universities invest in High Performance Rowing Coach

The University of Aberdeen and Robert Gordon University have appointed a full-time professional High Performance Rowing Coach to nurture and support the next generation of rowing talent for Scotland and Team GB.

Aberdeen’s universities invest in High Performance Rowing Coach to discover future Team GB stars

The University of Aberdeen and Robert Gordon University have appointed a full-time professional High Performance Rowing Coach to nurture and support the next generation of rowing talent for Scotland and Team GB. 

Supported by Scottish Rowing and sportscotland, the coach will be responsible for leading on the students day-to-day coaching and training programme with a focus on identifying and developing talented athletes to an Under 23 international standard.

Appointed to the post is former rower, Michael Hughes. Formerly in a recruitment and development role at Newcastle University Boat Club, Michael oversaw one of the most successful British university rowing programmes of recent years.

Commenting on his appointment, Michael said: “Aberdeen has a proud history of producing talented and successful rowers and one of the key aims of this partnership is to look for the next generation of oarsmen and women who are yet to pick up an oar and give them every opportunity to excel in the sport. I hope that somewhere in Aberdeen there is a budding Katherine Grainger!

“We want Aberdeen to become the first choice destination for junior rowers who want to continue the sport at university. Between them, Robert Gordon University and Aberdeen University offer a fantastic range of degrees such as medicine, architecture, engineering, pharmacy and sports science; with both institutions offer scholarships and bursaries for talented athletes.”

Both universities have established volunteer-led rowing programmes with over 150 students rowing out of both clubs. Working between RGU: SPORT, Aberdeen Sports Village and on the Dee, Michael will introduce a regime of intense training. This will include strength and conditioning, sessions on rowing machines and sessions on the water, all designed to fit around the students’ academic studies.

In addition, Michael will support the teams’ current volunteer coaches and look to support and train up more coaching staff from the local area. He also recently held a 10-day training camp on the River Dee working on the individual strengths and weaknesses of the student rowers.

He adds: “Rowing is a sport that pushes the body and mind to the limits and beyond. One of my key responsibilities will be to prepare our athletes for the demands this sport makes on those who want to excel at competition, Team GB and Scottish trials.

“We are very fortunate to have the support of the Scottish Institute of Sport and both Universities in this programme, all of whom bring expert knowledge in sports science to this partnership. Together we hope to help Aberdeen’s university clubs gain a reputation as being amongst the best in Scotland.”

Head of Sport for the University of Aberdeen, Donald Pirie, said: “The University of Aberdeen has a long and proud tradition in rowing stretching back nearly 150 years.

“Our current squad of rowers are of the high calibre we have become renowned for over the years and Michael’s appointment as the new High Performance Rowing coach will help take our athletes’ potential to another level.

“We look forward to this exciting new opportunity and to working with Michael to further enhance our reputation throughout the country for producing quality rowers and rowing squads.”

Neil Brown, Sports Programmes Manager at RGU: SPORT, comments: “The High Performance Rowing Coach post demonstrates a real investment in rowing in Aberdeen, giving our students a distinct advantage and offering them a level of training and support usually reserved for senior athletes.

“Over the last 8 years, the RGU Boat Club has progressed in respect to performance and as a Club, and with this additional support we hope to build on the momentum the students have generated.

“This type of investment looks at the long-term future of the sport in the area and supports the Scottish Rowing outcome of increasing the numbers of Scottish athletes on GB Under 23 teams.”

Lee Boucher, Scottish Rowing’s High Performance Co-ordinator, added: “Scottish Rowing and the sportscotland institute of sport are delighted to be part of this ground-breaking partnership with Robert Gordon University and the University of Aberdeen which aims to increase the number of Scottish athletes on GB Rowing teams.

“Team GB’s rowers made history at London 2012 and 80% of this team had come through University rowing programmes, including an incredible 22% who had picked the sport up for the first time during their student years, outlining the importance of this key strategic appointment.”

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