Sally Hopewell, Marlow, PR1
What started as a generous courtesy has turned into one of the biggest and most important events of the UK adaptive rowing calendar – Phyllis Court Invitation Time Trial. Several years ago, Guildford Adaptive Coach and Coordinator Robert Hall was looking for a location for an away day for the adaptive squad and went to Phyllis Court who have a small rowing club. After their very enjoyable day, the club invited his group to take part in their annual time trial event. The beauty of the site, the slick organisation and the flexibility of the programme made it an ideal event for adaptive rowers (though the soggy turf and gravel paths do give the wheelchairs a workout). Robert asked if he could invite a few other adaptive clubs and Phyllis Court said sure.
Well, a few years on, Sunday’s event has grown in popularity to 17 para-athletes in 24 boats. In fact, this year the adaptive boats surpassed the Phyllis Court Club boats (17, though adaptives tend to row in the smaller 1x and 2x boats, and the PCRC rowed more in quads so they had a few more athletes). The Phyllis Court crowd were very pleased to put on such a first class event for so many adaptive rowers.
The event attracted so many “Novices” (ie. adaptives who have never rowed a water race before) that they gave out medals for the top novice finishes in 1x and 2x boats. And the event also attracted luminaries of pararowing. Rachel Morris MBE competed for the first time since the Rio Paralympics as she is now back rowing after extensive shoulder rehabilitation. And Naomi Riches MBE was on hand volunteering all day with boating and logistics and finally presenting the medals at the end of the day.
The medals were given out on fairly arbitrary basis using the squad coaches to determine which match ups had a critical mass of at least 3 boats and also recognised distinctive performances:
- Adaptive Fixed Seat Womens – Rachel Morris, Guildford
- Adaptive Novice 1x – Dan Steveson, Maidenhead
- Adaptive Junior Boys (time handicapped) – Mateusz Stan, Marlow
- Adaptive PR3 2x – Georgia Walker and Emma Daniel, Marlow
- Adaptive Novice 2x – Neil Lawson and Finlay Lawson, City of Oxford
- Adaptive LD 2x – “Captain” Fleisher and Robert Hall, Guildford