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13 July 2009 | PR 09/90

Loughborough rower Clarke makes Henley final

Clarke

Clarke is the last rower in the boat

Loughborough rower James Clarke has achieved a University best by becoming the first ever student to reach a final at the Henley Royal Regatta.

The University sports scholar was in a Nottingham and Union IV that lost out to Australian outfit Sydney Rowing Club in the final of the Wyfold Challenge Cup after taking a number of big name scalps on the way.

It was a tremendous effort from the Nottingham IV who finished top two in a field of 65. On the way to the final they had already beaten three seeded clubs, including the local Henley Rowing Club and the much-fancied London Rowing Club.

And they really turned it on in the semi-final to beat favourites Wallingford Rowing Club. In an outstanding race, they came from behind to win by a third of a length, but the Aussies proved just a step too far in the final.

Loughborough rowers were also in action elsewhere during Royal Regatta week as sports scholars Ed Whiteley, Pete Muhley and Monica Relph joined other Nottingham crews. Muhley and Relph reached the semi-finals as part of a men’s IV and women’s VIII respectively, while Whiteley was in a coxless IV that lost out in the quarterfinal stages.

“For James to make the final is exceptional,” said Loughborough Students head rowing coach Mitch Rosenlund. “And to have four students go past the second round is a real achievement for the club.

“Olympic and world champions race at Henley so the standard of the event is extraordinary.  It’s a great opportunity for our top rowers to gain experience amongst such high calibre crews.”

There was misfortune for the only crew racing in Loughborough colours - the men’s VIII, after their steering broke and forced them off the course in the Temple Challenge Cup. Having qualified for the final 32, the crew took an early lead on University rivals Newcastle in the first round. But hopes of progressing and at least matching their best ever performance were dashed when control of the rudder was lost and the boat went careering into the booms.

“Damage to the steering on the VIII was a massive blow,” added Rosenlund. “The guys had put eight months of work into that race and so it was a big disappointment for everyone involved.”   

Loughborough was also responsible for attracting the first ever Chinese crews to race at Henley, 160 years after the competition began.

The team from the Sichuan Province had been staying at the University for four weeks in preparation for their first ever Royal Regatta, training at Holme Pierrepont in Nottingham alongside the Loughborough squad and benefitting from the world class dry facilities available on campus. The Sichuan women’s quad, men’s double scull and a men’s sculler made it through to the semi-finals in Henley.

−ENDS−

For all media enquiries contact:

Amanda Overend
Sport PR Officer
Loughborough University
T: 01509 228686
E: A.J.Overend@lboro.ac.uk 

Notes for editors:

Loughborough is one of the country’s leading universities, with an international reputation for excellence in teaching and research, strong links with industry and unrivalled sporting achievement.

It was awarded the coveted Sunday Times University of the Year 2008-09 title, and is consistently ranked in the top twenty of UK universities in national newspaper league tables. In the 2008 National Student Survey, Loughborough was voted one of the top five universities in the UK, with 22 out of 30 of its subject areas being ranked in the top ten for overall satisfaction. It was named winner of the 2006, 2007 and 2008 Times Higher award for the UK’s Best Student Experience and winner of the 2007 award for Outstanding Support for Overseas Students. In recognition of its contribution to the sector, the University has been awarded six Queen's Anniversary Prizes – an achievement bettered by no other institution.

It is a member of the esteemed 1994 Group – a set of internationally recognised, research-intensive universities – and has a reputation for the relevance of its work. Its degree programmes are highly regarded by professional institutions and businesses, and its graduates are consistently targeted by the UK’s top recruiters.

Loughborough is also the UK’s premier university for sport. It has perhaps the best integrated sports development environment in the world and is home to some of the country’s leading coaches, sports scientists and support staff. It also has the country’s largest concentration of world-class training facilities across a wide range of sports.

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