Youth Olympics: Sore champions build up a thirst

By Anendra Singh

The message for Kathy Jenkins was loud and clear not long before the boys approached Hawke's Bay Airport late yesterday afternoon.

Andrew Potter and Tom Jenkins had made it abundantly clear they wanted to shower and change before making a beeline for their favourite drinking hole along Ahuriri, in Napier.

The Hawke's Bay rowers deserved a refreshingly cool one, two or three after returning from the Australian Olympic Youth Festival last night with two gold medals and a silver.

The lactic acid build-up for the 18-strong Kiwi rowing team was evident at the airport as Potter could barely raise his left arm to hold the medal for a photograph.

With Potter at the bow, the 18-year-olds scorched the 2km distance on the Penrith course in the men's pairs crews on Saturday, beating fellow Kiwis Louis van Velthooven and Jefferson Haldane in a time of 6min 47.69sec.

Asked if they desperately needed to quench their thirst after returning from a region overwhelmed by heat waves and widespread forest fires, a laughing Potter replied: "A little, just a little."

Van Velthooven and Haldane stopped the clocked at 6:51.62 while South Australia picked up bronze in a time of 6:54:74.

Potter said Jenkins set the pace in front of him but the pair were always communicating, acting on each other's observations in the boat to perfect their art on the water.

On Sunday, the former Napier Boys' High School pair combined with van Velthooven and Haldane to clinch a gold medal in the four crew, covering the same distance at the man-made river for the Sydney Olympics.

They clocked 6min 22.15sec with South Australia second in 6:24.94 and Great Britain third at 6:25.24.

Potter and Jenkins then found themselves in the eights crew of Matthew Dunham, Van Velthooven, Sheldon Noyce, Rowan Jackman, Haldane, Daniel Bridgwater, and coxswain Jonathan Zouch but they had to settle for silver this time.

South Australia took gold with a time of 5min 56.02sec by a boat length with the New Zealand crew coming in at 6:00.31 and Great Britain claiming bronze in 6:01.25.

The annual youth olympics enticed crews from Australia's seven states, as well as international crews from Great Britain and Vanuatu, comprising 182 rowers.

With Kiwis such as Nathan Cohen and Storm Uru competing in the event a decade ago, New Zealand Rowing sends a contingent to give rowers a taste of what they are likely to experience if they make the cut to the Olympics.

"It was a bit odd," said Potter, who is heading to Otago University to study law this year after some seasonal work here.

"We had to attend ceremonies, wear New Zealand caps and live in the athletes' village so it was quite a situation."

There were also "little surprises" thrown in which brightened up their structured existence. "There was no laundry so we had to rough it out a little bit. It was interesting," said Potter of the week-long event.

He lauded his parents, Jane and Barry Potter, for their support and encouragement.

Bay coach Chris Morgan and Dr Donald "The Doc" McDonald for working with them in preparation for their first youth olympics.

Jenkins' is now focused on study as he prepares to head to Auckland Unitech for a boat-building course.

Describing the youth event as "something new, something different", Jenkins said while it did offer a glimpse of the Olympics, they were taking "one step at a time".

New Zealand returned home with nine medals - three golds, four silvers and two bronzes.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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