Stepping up to the big time

By Cameron Leslie

Balancing work and life can be hard enough, but for Whangarei's Edward Baddeley that's just the start of it.

The 19-year-old is one to watch after being named in one of Rowing New Zealand's regional performance centres in Auckland.

A regional performance centre is best explained by Baddeley as: "Rowing's version of the Blues for rugby. In rowing [and rugby] you can get picked from there into what would be the All Blacks, except we don't get the big pay cheque."

Baddeley was selected about three months ago after being asked by Rowing New Zealand to trial as they begin their hunt for the new Mahe Drysdales, being put to the test across a three-day regatta where athletes were judged on performance and their likely further development.

Performance centres are generally tasked with developing athletes who can represent New Zealand at Rowing World Championships and the Olympic Games.

Since being given the nod, Baddeley has been training 12 times a week in Hobsonville, living away from home, and working almost full-time for Fulton Hogan.

Living only 500m from his training venue, Baddeley cycles to training every morning - except for his two sleep-in days on Thursday and Sunday - before doing either erg training or hitting the water for between 90 minutes and two hours.

"It [the changes in lifestyle] takes a lot of getting used to," said the former Boys' High student. "Luckily I've got my uncle down there who helped me get a job, but I'm enjoying where I am because it's not in the city so you don't get all the traffic."

Baddeley praised Fulton Hogan for their flexibility with training hours, saying it has helped with his transition to Auckland. "I start two hours after everyone else and finish at the same time so it's good," said Baddeley who works in the road maintenance crew.

Rowing is the only sport Baddeley has been attracted to since he was a child and learned to row a dinghy while on holiday with his family.

Now, six years after starting, Baddeley is living in an average west Auckland home and training in old Air Force barracks.

Baddeley's father, Nigel, who is also a coach with the Whangarei Rowing Club, said he was proud of where his son had taken his sport.

"He's quite methodical about things and, obviously, reasonably aggressive," said Nigel. "He's a hard worker; you have to be really because they row about 40km even before breakfast.

"It's a semi-elite squad he's in, [and] what they [Rowing New Zealand] do is keep them in there for two or three years and work through to world champ or elite status. So it's quite a step up."

- NORTHERN ADVOCATE

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