Ron who is in his early 60s is from Geelong and has HSP. Inspired by his wife Ellenor’s achievements and success in rowing, Ron recently took up the sport. Ellenor competed in multiple events at the World Masters Games in Cambridge New Zealand in April last year. Ron watched a single rower with a disability winning a gold medal and thought, “If that person can do that, I can do that”.
Not being happy just to learn to row to start with, Ron wanted to compete and so had to be classified according to the Paralympic classification. This process involves being checked out by a specially certified sports physio and resulted in a provisional Paralympic classification for Ron of P1 or P2. The next step in classification is to go to a state or national event for assessment by rowing administrators.
Ron went to the local rowing club in Geelong – the Corio Bay Rowing Club – and started out in a tub double with an experienced partner on the Barwon River. Ron has also tried a single scull and says that is a lot more difficult. Ron says “getting in and out is a big challenge as the boat is at ankle level, it moves in the water and it is tippy. I have to get down and slide in and out. Lack of balance, muscle weakness and spasticity don’t help but I haven’t fallen in the river getting in or out while trying a single scull, but actually rowing however, is another matter.
Once on the water, staying upright is a skill all in itself using the oars. Then fitness, strength and technique are what’s needed and I would say that the strength in my quads (thigh muscles) has improved. Another added benefit is the tiredness and lead weight feeling has subsided a great deal. It’s not gone but is definitely a lot less”.
Ron trains 1 to 3 times a week for about an hour and says that it is a good cardiovascular workout. Ron says “I had never heard of anyone with HSP doing rowing as a sport, but I think it is really well suited to our disability. I hope I can encourage other HSPers to give it a go”.
Having trained and developed skill over last summer, Ron had his first race in April 2018 at a local regatta over 500m in a tub double scull. He is now spending more time in a single scull but Ron’s sights, and those of his wife Ellenor are firmly towards the Kyoto World Masters Games in 2021, where Ron has the goal of, put simply, “going for bling!”.