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UVic Vikes win women's national rowing championship

The UVic Vikes women’s rowing program measures success in world terms, as evidenced last year in Tokyo with Olympic gold and bronze medals by Vikes alumni Avalon Wasteneys and Caileigh Filmer.
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The UVic Vikes women’s rowing program measures success in world terms, as evidenced last year in Tokyo with Olympic gold and bronze medals by Vikes alumni Avalon Wasteneys and Caileigh Filmer.

“It’s exciting to have the national team training so close by us on the Island,” said UVic head coach Jane Gumley.

But the journey to get there begins at the other levels, with the Vikes winning the Canadian women’s university championships team title this week in St. Catharines, Ont.

“We have a team culture of trust and courage and we trusted each other in training and at nationals,” said Gumley.

“COVID really set us back that last two years but we dug in our heels and trained hard and with purpose. I am very proud of our team,” added ­Gumley, named national women’s ­university coach of the year for the second consecutive year.

The UVic eight, paced by fifth-year captain Danae McCulloch, won gold in six minutes, 12.2 seconds to break the course record by four seconds in St. Catharines, Ont. Also winning gold was the UVic lightweight double of Paige Letham and Genevieve Olson.

“Our rowers pushed each other to be faster. We call it ­challenging competitiveness,” said Gumley, by phone as the Vikes made their way home from St. Catharines.

UVic women’s rowing will celebrate its 50th anniversary with a ceremony on Nov. 19. Gumley will bring along another national banner to the occasion, which will honour a program that has over five decades produced Olympic-medallists such as Wasteneys, Filmer, Lindsay Jennerich, Silken Laumann, Kirsten Barnes, Jessica Monroe-Gonin, Lisa Robertson, Buffy Alexander, Anna Vander Kamp, Theresa Luke, Darcy Marquardt and Rachelle de Jong.

Meanwhile, head coach Aalbert Van Schothorst’s 2021-champion UVic men’s team was third at nationals this year but just missed first place by four points in the tight standings. Tokyo Olympian and Vikes standout Patrick Keane hit for the medal cycle with gold, silver and bronze to be named top male athlete at nationals.

“Patrick came back from the Olympics with a clear goal of passing on as much knowledge as possible to his teammates,” Van Schothorst said in a statement.

“His impact has been remarkable in seeing how that resonates with the team. His experience as an athlete and a mentor holds gravity among his peers, beyond his remarkable on-water performance, and is the reason he is the athlete of the year.”

cdheensaw@timescolonist.com

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