Great mates, and now national champions
By TONY WHITE
TWO good mates from Grafton High School who only teamed up two months ago have won gold at the Australian Rowing Championships in Tasmania.
Brenton Ford and Lewis Hemphill, both 15, rowed to victory in the boys' Under-17 double scull championship.
In a commanding performance, the talented youngsters led from start to finish.
"Fantastic, everything came together perfectly," Ford said from Tasmania yesterday. "We're still buzzing."
Ford and Hemphill, a 2005 Daily Examiner Sports Star of the Year top 10 finalist, went through the event undefeated.
"They were clearly the superior crew," coach Colin Lang said. "It was a stunning win."
Prior to the final Ford admitted to nerves creeping in.
"Yeah, I was pretty nervous, but Lewis was just Lewis, quiet and laid back.
"With about 500 metres left l thought we had a really good chance of winning. We were two boat lengths in front and just had to hope the others didn't come back at us again and we held it together. At the finish it was great. All the pain disappeared. We turned around and shook hands. Mum (Wendy) and Dad (Warren) were in the stands cheering and crying. It was a real buzz.
"I'd like to thank Greg Thompson and all the Grafton Rowing Club for their support, my coaches Ron Beattie and Ken Maughan and Lewis's coach, Colin Lang."
Ford and Hemphill joined the girls' Under-17 coxed quad as gold medal winners at the national championships held on Lake Barrington.
In other finals Ashleigh Peppernell (South Grafton High) and Tes Garrand (Taree) won bronze in the girls' Under-19 double scull.
Peppernell went on to gain bronze in the schoolgirl single scull B final, Rachael See fourth in the schoolgirl single scull C final and Steffanie Colgrave fifth in the schoolgirl single scull D final. Ford finished third in the schoolboy single scull C final and Hemphill won the schoolboy single scull D final.
The seven Clarence Valley competitors made finals of every event they contested and all won a gold medal.