A Putney rower enjoyed her moment in the spotlight after she helped her team triumph at the first ever Invesco Perpetual City Regatta in London.
Marieke Bal, 28, and three other teammates from Thames Rowing Club were the star performers in the capital’s Canada Square Park on Friday evening when they saw off a host of challengers to be crowned the best female team over 1km on Concept 2 rowing machines.
The Invesco Perpetual City Regatta is a spectacular new challenge where four-strong male and female crews compete head to head in a series of fast and furious regatta-style knock-out races live on stage in four cities across the country.
Bal and her rowing friends were in action at the fourth event of the series in London, after Edinburgh, Leeds and Bristol, before the Invesco Perpetual City Regatta Winner’s Row-Off on October 12 at the Guildhall, London, which will take place in front of an array of rowing legends and heroes returning from Rio.
And having earned local bragging rights last Friday, Bal, from Holland, was already setting her sights on walking away with the national title.
“I moved to Putney for rowing, it’s a huge passion of mine so to be able to come to the heart of London is an incredible experience,” she said.
“To win is great, we were invited a while back but we hadn’t been training recently so were curious to see where we were.
“We have two months of training ahead of that final now and we can’t wait. To meet the Olympians and Sir Steve Redgrave will be incredible, absolutely brilliantly.
“We now have the chance to go to Guildhall at the final which will be incredible, giving us a chance to meet the winners from the other City Regattas too, seeing what they’ve been up to and see if we can take the overall prize.
“I’d urge absolutely everyone to get involved in rowing, it’s really easy to be a part of, whether that be indoors or out on the water, particularly after the success of the Olympics.
“People who won gold medals this week were inspired by Sir Steve Redgrave and Sir Matthew Pinsent way back, so there’s always that inspiration out there and it’s brilliant to have watched those out there before we went and competed.”
Designed to test both fitness and teamwork, the Invesco Perpetual City Regatta is open to everyone – from seasoned pros, rowing novices or those who are just up for a new challenge.
During the competition, all four crew members row on separate rowing machines at the same time over a target distance of 1km with the racing software producing a 500m split pace for each rower, while the individual splits are then compiled in real time into one average split pace for the entire crew.
Their progress is then displayed on big screens for competitors and spectators alike to see – including double Olympic medallist Alex Partridge who was there to cheer on crews and offer words of encouragement.
And for Partridge, who won silver and bronze in Beijing and London respectively, the standard of rowing on show was more than impressive.
“Invesco Perpetual have had a long-standing relationship with rowing, and specifically Leander Club, which is the biggest backer of the British rowing team outside of British Rowing themselves,” he said.
“It’s been part of the grassroots foundation programme and the City Regatta is all about building the profile of Leander Club and providing a platform for future Olympians in rowing, looking ahead to Tokyo 2020 and beyond.
“It’s been a very special day to hold the Invesco Perpetual City Regatta because we have seen the first two British gold medals in rowing being won in Rio.
“It’s a phenomenal event, it’s amazing to see the support of rowing, particularly rowing on the machine, which is one of the painful apparatus that there is in any gym.
“And I think the opportunity that the Invesco Perpetual City Regatta have opened up, to be able to attend the celebration of Great Britain’s Olympic medallists and athletes at the Guildhall with Leander Club, is a once in a lifetime opportunity, and a really special thing to have.”
Invesco Perpetual’s innovative new ‘City Regatta’ event is a celebration of the achievements of Leander Club, the main feeder club to the GB team with 24 of its rowers competing in Rio, and aims to encourage more people across the UK to get involved in rowing.