ROWING: Alex ‘surprised’ to collect gold

Junior gold medal winners James Toynton (front) and Alex Leverage.
Junior gold medal winners James Toynton (front) and Alex Leverage.
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Whaplode teenager Alex Leverage brought gold home from the British Rowing Junior Championships.

The 14-year-old Spalding Grammar School student, who started rowing in September 2013, partnered Peterborough City team-mate James Toynton of Burgh le Marsh.

The championships took place at Nottingham’s National Water Sports Centre over three days.

Crews from all around the country arrived to contend for the medals.

Leverage and Toynton found themselves facing opponents from as far afield as Bristol and Aberdeen in the Open J14 double sculls.

The contest started with a series of skills tests including standing up and turning round in the boat, rowing backwards towards a target, rocking the boat 
rapidly from side-to-side and rowing a slalom.

Hours of being coached in boat skills came to the fore as the boys easily outmanoeuvred many of their 17 opponents.

The scores from the skills tests were combined with the results of a 500m time trial and Leverage and Toynton emerged victorious.

Leverage was “surprised” by their win but club coach Rebecca Clephan said she’d expected at least a top-three finish.

Junior co-ordinator Matt Newton said: “We are confident that we are producing competent, highly skilled and fast athletes at our club.”

As well as competing in their double, Leverage and Toynton also took part in the Open J14 single sculls.

Conditions deteriorated during the event and a strong headwind with gusts of crosswind caused many of the singles to take on water.

Despite this, Leverage finished a very respectable seventh of 54 with Toynton 21st.