Friday, 23 July 2021

Regatta chairman to stand down next year

MIKE SWEENEY will retire as chairman of Henley Royal Regatta after the 175th event next year.

MIKE SWEENEY will retire as chairman of Henley Royal Regatta after the 175th event next year.

He was first elected as chairman of the committee of management in January 1993 and is only the tenth chairman since the committee was formed in 1881.

Mr Sweeney was elected a steward of the royal regatta in 1974 and was an umpire from 1979 to 2009.

He was elected to the committee of management in 1979 and is the longest-serving member.

Mr Sweeney won four medals at the royal regatta as a rower, took part in the Boat Race twice and represented Great Britain.

The retired civil engineer was also chairman of the Great Britain selection board and was team manager from 1974 to 1980.

Five-times Olympic gold medal winner Sir Steve Redgrave has been elected vice-chairman of next year’s royal regatta.

Meanwhile, former Leander Club captain Mark Hunter has been elected a steward of the regatta.

Hunter, who was educated at Bower Park Academy and Havering Sixth Form College, began his rowing career at Poplar, Blackwall & District Rowing Club in the East End.

He quickly progressed through the GB rowing ranks and featured in the world junior championships in 1995 and 1996 before going on to the U23 world championships from 1997 to 2000. In 2001, he chose to change class and to race as a lightweight.

Hunter was elected captain of Leander in 2005 and in 2007 he teamed up with Zac Purchase. In their first year together they won a bronze medal at the world championships in the lightweight men’s double sculls.

In 2008, the double was the only undefeated crew in world rowing, going on to win the Olympic title in Beijing.

Hunter was awarded an MBE in 2009 for his services to rowing. After a year off in 2009, the same double won gold at both the 2010 and 2011 world championships. and silver at last year’s London Olympics.

Other elected stewards are Tom James, who rowed in the British coxless fours which won gold medals at the Beijing Olympics in 2008 and in London last year, and Fiona Dennis, who is a member of Derby Rowing Club and Leander Club.

Dennis is an international umpire and a past member of the Thames Regional Umpires’ Committee. She umpired at the 2012 London Paralympic Games, is a past member of both the British Rowing Council and the British Rowing Executive Board and currently chairs the British Rowing Competition Committee, tasked with a complete review of the current competition structure.

The regatta’s committee of management has decided not to allow those students who have trained and raced for their university or college at a high level in competitive events during the year to then appear in a club crew at the regatta.

It also agreed that the junior women’s quadruple sculls event, which was introduced in 2012, should have its own trophy and the stewards have accepted a silver cup from British Rowing.

This trophy was first raced for in 1933 at the Thames Championships Regatta where it was presented to the winners of the England v France four-oar race.

It reappeared in 1972 when it was presented by Weybridge Ladies’ Rowing Club at the national rowing championships.

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