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Interview: Clubs return to action after 18-month hiatus

By Sam Curtin 


The past 18 months have been extremely difficult for all students in UCC. While understandably, most of the concerns were with students and their academic studies, clubs have also felt the brunt of the pandemic. This week, I spoke to Tara Hanlon, vice-captain of UCC Rowing to get the club’s thoughts on returning to action for the first time in 18 months. The club has had success in the recent Tokyo Olympics with current students Paul O’Donovan and Emily Hegarty winning gold and bronze respectively while Tara was reserve for the women’s four.

Tara Hanlon (vice-captain of UCC Rowing)

How have the past 18 months been without normal club activity?

To say the last 18 months of training has been difficult is an understatement. Our club rowers have had to endure months of training alone only communicating virtually via zoom and have severely missed the camaraderie of training as a group and the social aspect that is such a key aspect of our club. This being said some excellent training has been done from home and the success of the club this past year speaks for itself. Seeing our high-performance athletes competing and winning medals at the Olympic Games gave everyone in the club a boost and the motivation to keep training hard and this showed in the success we had at the National Irish Championships this summer winning a total of 9 National Irish Championships. Seeing the success has given everyone a lift and now more than ever our athletes are eager to come back stronger than ever.

Did you run any online events/other activities during a lockdown?

At the start of lockdown, we ran online circuit classes and zoom sessions but it was difficult to keep the athletes motivated to continue this for the whole year.

What are you looking forward to most about being back?

We as a club are all really looking forward to being able to train as a group again. One of the best things about rowing with UCC is that you get to train alongside a wide range of athletes from Olympians to novices and coastal rowers in both sculling and sweep disciplines. Those of us who have been in the club for a few years have formed lifelong friendships and we cannot wait to see the club expand as we look to the future and everyone is excited to welcome in the new athletes and get the club morale back.

What are the challenges for the year ahead after being away for so long?

As we are an outdoor sport and we mainly row in crews of four and eight people lockdown has really hit us hard and we have mainly been training alone on indoor machines for the past 18 months. It will be difficult at the start to get people back out on the water again but rowing is like riding a bike, a skill you never forget, and so we believe that after a few spins out on the water everyone will be back into the swing of things again and ready to hit the ground running with the upcoming season.

What are the club’s hopes for the year ahead?

In the short term, we are looking at securing an indoor facility where we can all train on the ergs as a group near campus. It is essential for the development of the club and for our High-Performance athletes to be able to fit in their training schedules alongside their college commitments. In the long term, we look to have our own boathouse with an indoor training facility to house our ergs as well as a weights gym and a social hub. We also have hopes to expand both our men’s and women’s squads with a gravy train of novices joining the club every year with the aim of winning both University and National Irish Championship Titles.

Deputy Head of Sport in UCC Christine O’Connor made it clear at last week’s Clubs & Socs EGM will be to get clubs active and thriving again rather than results. If you want to get involved with a club this year then simply log onto the clubs and societies website with your student number and select which clubs you want to join. Alternatively, you can email any club with its name@uccclubs.ie. Here’s to a fantastic sporting year!

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