Perse rower makes waves to be crowned national champion

Picture: AllMarkOne

Ben Mead (Lower Sixth) put in an ‘oar-some’ performance to clinch the boys’ single sculls title at the National Schools’ Regatta.

Representing Cambridge ’99, Ben proved too strong for the opposition as he comfortably came through to be crowned champion.

He won his heat in a time of 7min 57.50sec and went slightly quicker in 7min 57.11 sec to lead the way in his semi-final at Dorney Lake, the venue for the London 2012 Olympic rowing events.

In the final, Ben surged ahead and crossed the line in an impressive 7min 33.88sec, shaving well over 20 seconds off his times from the previous rounds and finishing almost 14 seconds ahead of his nearest rival.

He said: “The National Schools’ Regatta is one of the biggest competitions of the year with around 5,000 people taking part and this certainly the biggest win I’ve ever had, so it’s pretty amazing.

“The conditions were generally quite nice and the heats and semi-finals went well, so I was able to back off on the last section to save a bit of energy.

“In the final, I just stretched my lead out and won by quite a margin. I thought it was going to be a bit closer.

“I knew I was going to be competing for the podium places, so to win it was a great reward after winning the B final last year.”

Picture: AllMarkOne

Astonishingly, Ben only took up rowing 18 months ago, but has made a huge splash since focusing on the sport.

He said: “I’d only really played rugby and done a bit of running by myself to help on the aerobic side before I started rowing, but I’ve found I’ve got the right kind of height and build for it.

“I’ve also been quite lucky because the coach at my club, Pere Gisbert, has been really amazing. He has worked a lot with me and he has been vital in how I’ve done so far.

“Rowing is one of the most technically challenging sports out there and you have to spend a long time trying to become proficient.

“When you’re out on the water, you can forget about everything else and just work on technique and then in the end, it just comes down to how hard you want to push yourself.”

Ben has six training sessions a week, including gym work, and following his breakthrough at the National Schools’ Regatta, he is now building towards trials for the Great Britain junior squad next month.

He said: “I’m a bit nervous about the trials, but they should be good fun and I’m excited about them.

“If I’m selected for the GB squad, it will be to go to either the World Junior Championships or the Coupe de la Jeunesse, but one day I’ll hopefully compete for GB at senior level.”

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