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Good luck to our very own rowing Master Veronique Gibbons

Today is the official opening of the World Masters Games where it all kicks off at Eden Park from 7.30pm.

Over ten days of competition will see 28 thousand athletes compete in 28 different sports demonstrating individual skills, camaraderie in team pursuits, and providing sporting inspiration to all from a variety of age groups.

To celebrate the Games we took some time to interview some of our very own Waikato DHB staff who are participating in the Games, starting with Quality and Patient Safety’s team leader of clinical effectiveness Veronique Gibbons.

Veronique a Liegion regatta

What event are you competing in? 

I’m competing in four events over the rowing regatta:

  • 1000m in a Women’s C category single scull
  • Women’s D double scull
  • Mixed E double scull
  • Mixed D 8+

What’s your background in rowing/have you competed in these games before? 

I took up rowing when I was working and studying in London in

Karapiro sunrise

the mid-90’s. I studied at Kings College London and we trained out of the University of London Boat Club in Chiswick. The good thing about joining a learn to row programme was that there were plenty of novices to make mistakes with. I probably had the record for the number of times I caught a crab in the first year. I was already a Masters rower when I started – minimum age for Masters rowing is 27 years. After Uni I joined a regular club near Hammersmith. In the UK there were regattas every weekend. We usually raced every second weekend. My best result in the UK was winning the Pair’s Head in the Senior 3 race category – a 4km race on the Thames from Chiswick to Hammersmith with about 400 entries. I have never participated in the World Masters Games before but did compete at the Henley Masters in England (two boats side by side on a 1000m course – we were absolutely slaughtered in our heat by the ex-German lightweight Olympic medalists from the 80’s) and at our annual NZ National Rowing Masters Championships. My best result in the NZ champs was winning five gold medals one year. I think it was the season after I had finished my PhD.

Why did you choose the Masters games?

It was an easy decision with the Games coming to us in New Zealand. I travelled more to different events around the country and in Europe when I lived in the UK but not so much now with a young family and the added juggling.

What does your training look like?

I belong to Cambridge Rowing Club. I try to train six days a week from 5.30am-7am – stopped by fog, wind or heavy rain. I have trained mainly with one other club member who I will be racing with in the Women’s D double scull. She’s 183cm tall (6 ft), I’m only 174cm tall (5ft8 ½ ). I have to sit on a raised seat pad when we are sculling together. We usually row a minimum of 10km per morning in either singles or a double. We have been lucky to receive coaching from the Head Coach of Cambridge Rowing Club. We used to think we trained hard until we started with him. Our training was consistent and always included a 5km time-trial on a Wednesday. We were also fortunate to train alongside the school students from St Peters Cambridge when they were gearing up for Maadi Cup. Despite some three decades age difference we felt we were keeping up with them and that we were continually improving. In the past couple of weeks we have moved to speed work after months of endurance, strength and base fitness.

Would you recommend rowing to others/what are the health benefits?

I love rowing and hope to continue well into my senior years. I know 5.30am is very early and some days it’s really hard to get my head off the pillow but being out there and seeing the sunrise on a beautiful day and rowing on flat water is an amazing feeling. I used to stop and take photos when I was at the half-way turnaround point but because I’ve been training ‘seriously’ I stopped doing that so much. My hubby and I both row. Given our families have blood pressure and cholesterol issues, we’ve been checked and we’re both healthy. We can only put it down to exercising and having fairly healthy lifestyles.

Rowing isn’t just a physical sport; it is also a social sport. There are some well-known social events – the famous ones are the Oxford-Cambridge Boat race and Henley Royal Regatta. It’s a great way of life, and a way to start the day. We have made some lifelong friends from our 10 years overseas and here in NZ through rowing.

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