We recently had a chat with Kathryn Glen from the New Zealand JW2x who is racing in Racice, Czech Republic for the Junior World Rowing Championships.
Have you had any training camps thius year to help prepare for Junior Worlds? What has it been like?
Yeah, I’d assume like many other countries we would have a similar training camp to ensure we are racing our best performance at Worlds. We train in our selected boats, which for myself and Stella is the women’s double scull and we have both loved the challenges we are set daily whilst training and when it starts to get tough we just remind ourselves of why we are doing this and it motivates us both to keep pushing on.
Have you had any big races that allow you to prepare for Racice this year?
There aren't any particular races to prepare us for Worlds. We have a yearly school national rowing regatta in New Zealand called ‘Maadi Cup’ and those results determine whether we get a Team NZ trial or not. But at the end of the day, any training is racing experience if it’s at a high intensity.
How has it been moving from smaller boat clubs with your school to the National Team?
Surprisingly, it isn’t much different. Wherever you row you will always make friends so that’s one thing similar to school rowing. I guess being named in the NZ Junior team with other amazing rowers is pretty cool and we all work off each other since we are all competitive individuals wanting to do well on the world stage, whereas, with school rowing for some it is just a bit of fun.
For all of the competitors that are based in the northern hemisphere, worlds is during their home summer months, however in New Zealand it's in the middle of your winter! Does this make it strange preparing for Racice at this time of your year?
Yeah, same as every other country/city, we do our main competitive rowing in the summer, so all the school students would choose rowing as their summer sport. As worlds are in Europe we have to train all the way through from summer to winter in order to prepare for Racice. I guess coming straight of high school rowing to high-performance rowing, you aren’t really sure of what to expect so at first training took a bit of getting used to but we all adapted really well and quickly.
What are the facilities like where you train?
Our lake (Lake Karapiro) where rowing New Zealand is based on is epic. We are so lucky with our facilities and the water we row on. It would be the typical ‘New Zealand’ scenery, surrounded by heaps of green trees and rocks and nice blue water. Couldn’t ask for a more amazing location to train at.
Have you had any big challenges to face in your rowing season this year or in your preparation for worlds?
I think every athlete faces some kind of challenges throughout their pathway. For myself, I wouldn’t say I have had many immense challenges that have set me back. I suppose I have always had the challenge of having to work that little bit harder to prove that my height isn’t going to affect me or my results, this being because I am only 170cm. Many assume I can’t be a rower due to the height factor but proved by many elite rowers worldwide, height is only an issue if you make it one.
Have any of you raced at the Junior World Championships before?
No, this is the first for many of us and especially my doubles partner and me. We have heard many epic stories from past junior rowers though so we are excited to get over there and experience the world stage ourselves.
What does it mean to you to be competing at an event on this scale? What are you most excited about?
It is both Stella’s and my first time in Europe so we are both so hyped to get over there and aim to go travelling afterwards as it seems like such a cool place! Being able to be a part of such a huge event is so mind-blowing, and is an opportunity you have to just grab, as it's not every day you get selected as part of an NZ team.
It must be very exciting to watch the NZ senior women having so much success recently at the world cup. Who inspires you in rowing?
Yeah, it’s absolutely incredible being a part of a system with such incredible women and other high achieving rowers. They have been all hard working and determined rowers so they deserve all the success they have earned. They all inspire me differently, but I’d have to say, Olivia Loe, in the women’s double as she has and keeps proving that you don’t have to be the tallest rower to win gold and my other rower who inspires me is Grace Prendergast in the Women’s Pair as she went to my high school back in the day so its pretty cool seeing a Villa Maria College old girl winning world titles.
What is your favourite thing about rowing?
There are so many things to love about rowing, the cool photos you get, the skills you learn such as resilience, responsibility and hard work, however, the friendships you make in rowing is like no other, you become more than friends, you become a family because you go through so much together, its literally blood-sweat and tears. It’s such a special bond you create within your crew and having each other along the journey just keeps you going.
What are your goals for the future?
My goals for the future are to attend University whilst continuing my pathway in rowing, because I am so young but yet too old to do another year of juniors (one year junior) means it will take a lot of hard work to make the U23 team straight out of juniors so I’m hoping to make U21s next year and then U23s the following year and just progressing up the ladder till I make the elite team and then finally reaching the ultimate aim to represent New Zealand at the Olympic Games.
We wish Kathryn and Stella the best of luck in their campaign in Račice next week!