Head coach Logan Keys offers some background to the Under 19 campaign in Paris

 

The Under 19s have spilled out onto the street outside the restaurant in Paris. It’s their final get together with coaches, managers, support staff and parents before they all head separate ways.

About 110 of them in all. At the centre of it Coach Lead Logan Keys is processing the 10 days in the host city for the 2024 Olympics and the build-up at Lake Karapiro.

The Women’s Eight finished 5th in the A Final after going through the repechage, the Men’s Eight won its heat to progress to the final where they were 4th. The Men’s Quad was 5th in the B Final. Reserve Milly Farrell finished 3rd in the D Final of the Women’s Single Sculls and Logan Spencer and Charlie Poulter won the D Final of the Men’s Pair.

Shared from Lightroom mobile (31)

Our U19 Men's Eight in the A final at the World Rowing U19 World Championships in paris. Photo: Art of Rowing.

The first ever New Zealand Junior Eight to go to a World Championships in 1973, spent six weeks overseas, getting some racing in around England beforehand.

Did the 2023 edition get enough time together?

LK: “We probably have the longest time together out of any programme and I think that in itself is great. But I think the challenge is overcoming the lack of real racing. Even getting on a plane, recovering after 10 days and getting into racing after a long-haul flight is a challenge as well.”

Could you structure the lead-up differently?

LK: “I think every year would be different in some sense, but this year I think the school holidays preceded us coming over here. And then you go, ‘Well, we've already got the expense of relocating most of the kids to Karapiro and if there's no more time out of school and it's cheaper to be in Paris, do you have the opportunity to spend more time in Europe? I certainly don't think it's impossible what we do, but I think you fly in and those two days after landing, you have to nail it, recovering from the jet lag, not getting sick. Obviously you can try and create your own luck, but unless you get it perfect, I guess it’s imperfect.”

U19 Paris-6329

Logan Keys pictured here with women from the U19 NZ squad in the lead up to the World rowing U19 Championships in Paris. Photo: Art of rowing.

What are you most proud of?

LK: “Just seeing how the team supported each other, did their karakia when they arrived every day, and left the venue every day as a group and supported each other on the water, I think was really cool.  Despite the tinge of disappointment we didn't walk away with any bling, the purpose was that we've created a group of individuals who are now connected. Hopefully a large number of them have the fire burning in the belly and progress on to the next step and ultimately that's the point of the Under 19 programme. And I guess all the boats were competitive so tick that box. I guess the flip side of the argument is, a gold medal’s always lovely, but the last thing you want is that the kids go over there get a gold medal and pat themselves on the back and go, ‘Sweet, that’s it.’  Sometimes that can have a negative impact on retention.”

What other successes have come out of this?

LK: “Probably seeing how well the Under 19 team integrated with the Elite and Under 23 teams at Karapiro. And that was from both ends: how the Under 19 team earned the respect of the Elite rowers and also how the Elite rowers welcomed them more than ever into the environment. So I think that there's just a greater sense of a strong supportive environment across the whole group, which is cool to see building and hopefully be able to retain people in it.”

What’s next for you?

LK: “I'm headed south to a little village at the base of Mont Ventoux and doing some cycling for about a week. I booked a ride with a company and am going to sneak in some of the Tour de France climbs. The main one in the next few days will be Mont Ventoux (otherwise known as the ‘Beast of Provence’). I think it'll be a good time to reflect for sure but I’ll mainly be making sure I can get up the top of this thing first and foremost.”

And would you like to be part of the programme next year? 

LK: “Yep, definitely, cool thing next year is they're in St. Catharines in Canada. It's a nice little rowing town and another combined event with the Under 23s. That'd be really cool, really exciting...Hopefully they’ll want me.”

Shaun-Hayward-Andy-Hay-gs-e1675209399782

Andy Hay

Andy Hay is a freelance producer, writer and rowing coach. He was cox of the world champion New Zealand eight of 1982 and '83. He is NZ Olympian #446.