Picture this, it’s mid-afternoon at the 2019 Australian Indoor Rowing Championships (AIRC) at Radford College. The sounds of cheers and rowing machine flywheels have echoed throughout the hall all day as competitors from around Canberra – including from the Men’s National Training Centre, the Australian Defence Force Academy and local rowing schools and clubs – have given their all on the indoor rowers.
But as the day draws to a close, a new sound echoes through the hall: “Let’s go, mums!”
Event MC Ben Farinazzo leads the cheers for a group of Radford College rowing mums not content to be on the sideline, but entering a 4 x 500m relay. The other rowers are quick to pick up Ben’s prompts and soon everyone is cheering the mums as they push through the pain barrier towards the finish.
Radford College mum and rower Sarah Kruger says the chanting was a massive boost for the team of inexperienced rowers.
“It definitely did boost the team that day,” she says. “There is always a real lift when the crowd gets behind you. When your form has gone out the window, it is one of the things that carries you over the line.”
While the indoor rower is generally a solitary activity in a gym, the Australian Indoor Rowing Championships links the machines so spectators can follow competitors’ progress on the big screen. Canberra had the most athletes and entries in 2019, making for an exciting experience and atmosphere – one that Sarah can personally vouch for.
“It is great fun and there is a real atmosphere in the room with everyone cheering for people and watching the big screen,” she says.
The 2020 AIRC, again at Radford College, on 25 October will be doubly exciting as Rowing Australia has introduced a point score competition for clubs, schools and gyms. Points will be awarded to the first 10 place-getters from each club, school or gym in each category and race distance, meaning competitors will earn points even if they finish 50th overall.
You don’t have to be an elite athlete or a rowing parent to take part in the competition. Participants from Rowing ACT’s Veterans & Families Indoor Rowing program are among those who have already entered, along with staff and athletes from Rowing ACT.
But if you are a rowing parent, Sarah probably has the best reason for signing up and joining in the fun.
“We all have children who row and we spend a lot of time on the sideline cheering them on so we decided it was their turn to cheer us on.”
Entries for the 2020 Australian Indoor Rowing Championships close on Monday, 19 October, with $5 from every entry fee going to the Cancer Council. For more information, visit Rowing Australia.