Maldives Rowing Volunteer
The racing was very exciting we cracked through the morning heats at a rate of knots and moved the afternoon heats down to save time later. Two of our youngest students (11 years old) racing U14, surprised themselves by winning their heat and even got an interview with MNBC which made their day! Guin and I also got interviewed and were able to watch ourselves on the news that night and apparently we were also on the next morning as we popped onto Rachel’s screen while she was eating her breakfast – hopefully my cheery mug didn’t cause too much indigestion!! Oh the heady heights of being a tv celeb!

We only had to re-run a couple of races – one boat lost an oar when it popped out of the gate (just before the 100m mark) and even I knew we could stop and start again! The other restarts were due to a mangle of boats caused by convergent steering from all crews. Much easier to start again than try and apportion blame. Considering we had no lanes the fact we re-ran only 4 races out of 25 just went to show how good the kids really are – weeks of being threatened to ‘steer straight or else’ by me may also have had a part to play!

Just so you get some idea of exactly what we achieved in one and half months, here are a few numbers for you all. On the day we had 90 students competing in just four boats. These had been selected from about 150 students in the weeks preceding the competition. I worked out every school had had 9 sessions each that’s 18 hours, half of that was for girls and half for boys and again the hour session was split by fitness exercises so each student must have been in the boat maximum 9 hours but more likely 6 hours in the past two months. They all rose to the occasion and impressed the pants off myself and the other coaches – we couldn’t believe they were the same lot that had driven us all wild during the week!

The races were really close in all categories – we had one girl vomit on crossing the line – which impressed me being a masochist! Between retches she informed me that she was sorry they had come second in the heat and they would beat the U18 girls in the final - which they duly did.

Racing was put on hold for Friday prayers 1000 - 1400 (hence the mega early start) and recommenced at 1445 once the ambulance had been relocated. Did I mention it was baking hot out there? ..... I felt like a melting ice cream and as I’d banned everyone from swimming while races were going on we just had to cook. However, the afternoon bought a bit of a breeze (nice and cooling) the current also picked up so boats tended to cross the finish line to the right of the actual course! The President of the Maldives, Mohamed Nasheed, and various members of his cabinet stopped by to watch a race or two as did Farah Faizal the Ambassador for the Maldivian High Commission in London. Interschool tensions were on super high by this point with Feydhoo, Muhibbuddin, Addu High School and Irushadhiyaa all ready to take chunks out of each other and we ended up with some incredibly close finals with boats crossing the line almost simultaneously which the crowd and competitors loved and kept the time keepers and marshals on their toes!

We finished bang on time - 1730 (which as I’d had no idea how long to plan for each race when I was structuring the day was in my mind a minor miracle)! The award ceremony took place as the sun went down behind the beach after a minutes silence for Matte. Rebecca, Guin and Ibraham Mohamed from Dhiraagu did the honours handing out medals, trophies and prizes with yours truly announcing over the megaphone all the names – hoping my pronunciation was not too atrocious – all the right people stepped forward so I think we were good! The Mayor Abdulla Sodiq and Superintendent for Education Fathimath Naseer presented the coaches and myself with certificates to acknowledge all the hard work we had put in over the last two months.  

Then followed a very enjoyable photo shoot session with all the students and schools before everyone finally left and we set about the not so fun job of clearing up. Luckily, Hafsa at the council sent the truck to pick everything up bang on time. So we loaded the launch, Roba attached his boat to the launch for a tow home, and the rest of us poled back in the dark over the flat glassy water with the stars above. Perfect end to the day. As we put everything away we were all quite sad that something we had worked so hard over was finished, that Matte wasn’t there to see it and wondering what the next project would be and that although it was bound to be good it would never be the same as that first time. Anyway, we finished our maudlin packing went home washed (much, much needed) and headed down to Royal Palm Restaurant for a cheerful celebratory meal. Must admit to missing the pub at that moment......     

X Tash

01/25/2012 11:49

good post

01/26/2012 11:23

good post

03/25/2012 19:43

Fine info bro

03/29/2012 23:29

Great info, thanks

03/31/2012 15:05

is before long

07/15/2012 07:39

THX for info


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