Sport

McKeown eyes medals at World U23 Rowing Championships

Andy Watters

Portadown’s Sam McKeown has set his sights on medals at the World U23 Rowing Championships in Bulgaria this week.

It’s a stellar rise through the ranks of local, national and now international rowing for McKeown, who turns 20 next month and only joined Portadown Rowing Club in 2012.

Sam says that he can’t wait to get into the water at the Championships, which are held this year in Plovdiv in central Bulgaria.

“I knew as soon as I started to row that it was the sport for me,” says Sam.

“I want to come home with a medal. I’d really like to place on record my huge debt to everyone involved in Portadown rowing club especially Ronald Walker who has coached me for the past three years, for the clubs support and encouragement over the past few years. I’d also like to thank the staff and coaches at the National Rowing centre in Cork, whose guidance over the past few weeks has been invaluable, including of course my coaches James Mangan and Don McLachlan. I do hope that I can do them proud in Bulgaria.”

In March 2013, Sam achieved Irish Indoor Championship for U23 and Irish Championship status in the single scull at Novice level. At the same Championships he competed at Intermediate and Senior level coming sixth and third respectively.

He was selected for the Home Internationals to row for Ireland and for Northern Ireland at the Commonwealth Championship regatta held alongside the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow’s Strathclyde Park. There he and Tiernan Oliver raced in the double and achieved a Bronze medal.

The Ulster Indoor Championships last November saw him achieve the second fastest time of the day before he regained his Irish indoor U23 Championship title.

That resulted in him being invited to participate in the February and March trials at the National Rowing Centre on Inishcarra Lake Cork, where he proved to be the best U23 heavyweight in Ireland and was selected alongwith Eric Rowan (Skibbereen) and Andrew Griffin (UCD) to trial for the U23 Worlds double.

In the lead up to the final selection trials Sam has been training with Rowan and Andrew Griffin in Portadown and Dublin and Cork in their attempt to improve on their effectiveness in a crew boatm while the last three weeks has been spent at the National Rowing Centre in Cork under the watchful eye of James Mangan and Rowing Ireland’s Lead Coach Don McLachlan.

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