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The secondary school rowing season is in full swing. This weekend the best crews in the South Island descend on Lake Ruataniwha in Twizel for the South Island Secondary School Championships, while the corresponding North Island Championships are at Lake Karapiro.
Then all schools and crews converge on Lake Ruataniwha from 4-10 April for the annual Maadi Cup National Championships – one of the biggest secondary school events on the sporting calendar with 2100 rowers in 1600 crews from 120 schools taking part.
Ashburton College’s Veronica Wall is one rower hoping to do well in both regattas in Twizel.
The Maadi Cup alternates each year from Karapiro and Ruataniwha. At last year’s regatta, held in the North Island, then Year 11 student Veronica won gold in the U16 single sculls, beating Georgia Keech from Sacred Heart Girls’ College, new Plymouth, and Claudia Waite from Rangitoto College into second and third. Veronica’s win was Ashburton College’s first ever gold at the Maadi Cup. She also won silver in the U16 quad with school mate Grace Wilson and an Ashburton College girls’ crew finished fifth in the U16 quad.
This year at Maadi Cup she will also race in several events. “I’ll be doing all three singles – U16, U17 and U18 – and I’m not sure what other boat, either a double or a quad.
“This weekend I think I’ll be doing the U16 single, U17 single, U18 single and the U18 quad. Hopefully, if I get through to the finals for all of them, that’ll be eight races over two days, so also good preparation for the Maadi Cup.”
Recently, Veronica competed in the Canterbury Secondary School Championships held nearby on Lake Hood, which also doubles as Ashburton College’s training base. In a successful weekend she won gold in the U16, U17 and U18 single sculls.
Prior to that, she won the Women’s club single sculls at the South Island Championships at the end of January and then won the same event at the Bankstream New Zealand Rowing Champions on Karapiro in mid-February.
Veronica’s father Justin is the coach of the Ashburton College and Ashburton Rowing Club squads and with both of her parents having a strong background in the sport, Veronica took to the water from an early age. “My family have rowed forever, my dad is the official starter down at the Twizel regattas and my mum rowed for Canterbury so I have been around it since I was young.”
With the New Zealand rowers continuing to set the pace on the elite world stage, Veronica has no shortage of role models, including 2014 single sculls champion Emma Twigg. “I’ve seen her around; she was at the recent club nationals a couple of weeks ago. I’ve never raced against her though as she would smash me!”
Veronica also has a background in netball and, more recently, athletics where she did well at the Ashburton College Athletics Day, but rowing is a fulltime sport on its own. “My focus is on rowing, it continues on through the winter with training and trials to get into teams. I want to try and get into the New Zealand Junior team this year.”
The New Zealand Junior team heads to the World Junior Rowing Championships in Amsterdam in late August.