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Hawke’s Bay rower faces biggest challenge to date

  • 16 May 19

Racing the world’s best in his chosen sport is nothing new to Hawke’s Bay’s Gavin Foulsham. In the past as an elite wheelchair racer he has performed admirably at both Barcelona & Sydney Paralympic Games and at numerous marathons around the world.

But tomorrow the two-time Paralympian takes on a different challenge at the FISA International Para Rowing Regatta in Gavirate, Italy, where he will compete against some of the world’s best in the PR2 men’s single scull. “I am really excited to be here in Gavirate – it feels like a long time coming, to have the opportunity to test myself against proven performers in this sport.”

In 2009 when Gavin commenced rowing his only option was to crew in a mixed double scull. He and rowing partner Jacqui Courtier took their boat to the final Paralympic Qualifying Regatta in Serbia in 2012, only to have their campaign cut short due to a classification anomaly. Despite this set-back Gavin continued to row, albeit with limited local competition. But in 2018 World Rowing added the single scull boat class to the world championships programme for the first time, rekindling his desire to race at the highest level.

“Outside of world champs, [the Para-Rowing Regatta in Gavirate] is the pinnacle event for para rowers for 2019, and was the key event on my mind when I commenced my season’s training last August,” said Foulsham. “I have certainly put in the miles on the Clive River with my coach Ross Webb. Winning the Australian champs in March confirmed I have made progress, but this is the real test.”

A strong performance from Foulsham at this regatta could see him in the running for a spot at world championships, but he is keenly aware of the metaphorical mountain he has to climb. “While I am a very experienced athlete who has been at this for a long time, smoking it on the world stage first time up rarely happens, especially when you are an old bugger like me,” he said. “I have never really been a cunning athlete nor one who is particularly subtle about how I do things, however I will need to tap into that experience to remain calm and stay smooth to keep the boat moving. Over the years I have learned how to suffer, and that is one skill I know I will have to put into effect this weekend!”

The regatta has entries from 25 nations, and the 2018 World Rowing Championship gold & bronze medalists will be lining up against Foulsham in the PR2 men’s single scull. Racing commences on Friday 17 May at 3pm European time and continues through Saturday with finals on Sunday 19 May from 9.30am.

For more information about the regatta click here.