Special report from Chair of the Community Adaptive Group Mark Dewdney on the 2023 Mixed Ability Regatta in Turin:
For the second year UK clubs attended the Mixed Ability regatta in Turin on 7th-8th Oct.
The International Paralympic and Special Olympic qualification regatta was hosted by Canottieri Armida on the River Po in Turin, Italy on Sat 7th and Sunday 8th October. For the second year UK clubs. The regatta itself is made up of several parts over 2 days of competition. The Special Olympics section for those with an intellectual impairment, A set of straight adaptive / para events. Races set aside for the rehabilitation of ex-offenders. And finally, the Mixed Ability races. It featured 18 clubs from across Europe and over 200 athletes.
All the UK teams, whether individually or in composite crews, had a very successful weekend. competing in up to 5 abreast racing on the River Po. Every competitor came home with a least one medal – Gold, Silver or Bronze.
Commenting Mark Dewdney from Stratford: “It’s a great and unique event. We have sung its praises in the rowing world. The number of UK and Irish crews attending is on the rise.”. Ross, Glasgow and Stratford were there – as were Blu Angel from Galway and Mark Chu from Shandon (Cork)
In its first year of sending a squad of rowers to an international disability event, Ross won one of the special prizes – as did Blu Angel.
SUABC, who were the reason the other UK clubs were there and ensuring all arrangements were made, helping the organisers, etc. had to satisfy itself with their team’s individual results.
Mark added, “We went for a week, to practice, race and enjoy Turin and the company of our Italian friends. A truly integrated regatta”
Special mention for the 2 rowers from Glasgow who won 3 medal each.
Ross RC reflect what it is all about They had seven rowers, five of whom live with visible or invisible disabilities. They won a total of 14 medals, of which 7 were gold. Their competitors were aged from late 20s to mid 70s. Some had years of experience, some had been rowing for only a few months including wheelchair user Sue “Wheels” Wheeler.
Sue said “I can’t thank people enough for welcoming me with such open arms and generosity” Sue has a spinal injury that limits her mobility and thought she would never be able to row and enjoy the river. She started rowing when she learned about the Mixed Ability Rowing (MARS) sessions at Ross Rowing Club (RRC) and has not looked back, “you have given me a new interest in life and now this Turin trip and three medals!!!”
A great moment in the weekend was when Dan Bailey (Ross) rowed with his brother Josh. Josh, who once rowed as a junior at Ross but hasn’t sat in a boat since, joined him in a quad as an emergency sit in. Josh had no rowing kit and wasn’t sure he would remember what to do, but he backed up his brother and climbed in behind him. They went on to win gold in the mixed quads joining rowers from Stratford and Glasgow. “I can’t believe he did that, it was so special, to have my brother with me” said Dan, “I will never forget this, never”
The final flagship race of the tournament on Sunday afternoon was an invitational mixed eights multi-lane sprint over 500m. Ross, Stratford, Armida and Shandon got together to come from behind to win a hard-won silver medal. The 3 UK clubs had formed mixed crews for many of the race and all were prepared to sit-in if there was a requirement.
Sally Pettipher went on to recognise the wider national and international effort that helped establish the RRC MARS programme and get the Ross team to Turin, “Thank you especially to Mark Dewdney who Chairs the Club Adaptive Rowing Group in the UK and to Cristina Ansaldi at Armida Club in Turin who supported us every step of
British Rowing has also published a piece on the event – “Stratford Goes Paddling on the Po!”.