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    Oar-Inspiring Start for Freya and Kate

    Kimbolton pupils identified as potential Olympians following successful trial for GB Rowing team's 'Start' talent identification programme.

    Kimbolton School Pupils Selected for GB Rowing Start ProgrammeKimbolton pupils Freya Dingwall and Kate Lyster have confirmed their status as two of the country’s top rowers after being selected for the GB Rowing team's 'Start' talent identification programme. The pair could now follow in the footsteps of Olympic champions Helen Glover and Heather Stanning, who both learned to row on the Start programme and went on to win gold at London 2012.

    The programme, which was established in 2001 with funding from the Lottery Sports Fund, looks for young people with exceptional natural potential who, with the right training, could become elite international rowers. Would-be recruits not only have to be gifted sports performers but also have a minimum height of 6’2” for males and 5’10” for females.

    Freya and Kate both underwent height, weight and arm span measurements during trials in Cambridge recently, as well as being tested through various strength, endurance and fitness activities.

    Writing to both girls afterwards, Mr Peter Lee, Start Coach – Cambridge, said: “Your scores have been thoroughly analysed by Start Programme coaches and compared with successful rowers. Our comparison suggests that, with the right training, and the commitment, competitive edge and mental toughness of an elite performer, you could be very successful in the Olympic sport of rowing.”

    It’s an impressive achievement for Freya, 13, who only took up rowing last summer and was the youngest person to be tested. An experienced horsewoman and also a county netball player, she believes her height and developed sense of balance are a great advantage in rowing. She said: “It was inspirational to see and meet some of the Start athletes at the trials. I’m so excited to have been accepted onto the programme – I still can’t believe it!”

    Meanwhile Kate, 16, has frequently been in the headlines since taking up the sport in October 2012. Last year she helped secure a silver medal for St Neots Rowing Club at the National Schools Regatta in Nottingham. This April, she went one better and claimed gold at the 2015 Junior Inter-Regional Regatta, competing over a 1,500 metre course in the WJ16 double.

    As she enters our Sixth Form in September, Kate will be aiming to balance the increased demands of training with her A Level studies. She said: "My training sessions will double from eight to sixteen per week and I'll be cross-training - swimming, cycling and running as well as rowing. Making sure my back and core are as strong as my legs will hopefully help me to avoid any injuries."

    Freya and Kate will now embark on a three-month probationary period, following personalised training programmes with Start coaches in Cambridge and Ely. They will then attend a further six-day assessment bootcamp at the National Water Sports Centre in Nottingham. It’s early days but watch out for updates on their oar-inspiring journey - it could just take them all the way to the Olympics!