Saturday, 04 July 2020
A ROWING coach from Sri Lanka spent a week learning from coaches at Leander Club in Henley.
Kushal Abhayaratne shadowed director of rowing Mark Banks to learn about the club’s high-performance programme and watched Leander’s elite athletes in training.
He plans to use what he learned once back in his own country as Sri Lanka is aiming to become the leading rowing nation in Asia.
Mr Abhayaratne also visited the River & Rowing Museum, the GB rowing lakes in Caversham and the Bisham Abbey National Sports Centre as well as other rowing clubs in the area.
He said Leander’s high-
performance programme would be useful to the Sri Lankan rowing squad that is being formed.
He said: “We are in the process of putting our national team together so I am learning about the high-performance aspects, especially in terms of strength and conditioning, training and talent identification.
“We employ some techniques already but I have learned a lot more.
“The coaches in Mark’s team have been sharing their experiences with me and I have been bouncing ideas off them so it has all been very valuable.” Mr Abhayaratne’s visit was the result of a partnership between Leander Club, FISA (the World Rowing Federation) and British Rowing.
Mr Banks said: “We are very keen to make this work for Kushal as well as British Rowing and FISA who have all worked so hard to help bring this plan to fruition.
“It’s a first step for all of us but something we would like to repeat in the future assuming all goes well.”
Sheila Stephens-Desbans, development director of FISA, said: “This is the first time a club has done this.
“Leander has a very good structure and Kushal has shown himself to be very serious. He was very engaged and we saw that he and his country had really demonstrated that they wanted to bridge the gap with the high-performance side in Asia.”
Annamarie Phelps, chairwoman of British Rowing, said: “The ambitious and professional coaching team has inspired and enabled many promising athletes to achieve their dreams by bringing together talent from across the country.”
⚫ Leander will be celebrating its bicentenary next year with a number of special events in Henley, London, Dublin and Sydney as well as the publication of a commemorative book.
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