photograph Top honours for rowing talent

Newcastle University rower James Rudkin has been recognised with a Rising Star Award by Sport Newcastle.

The 39th annual black tie event, held at the Civic Centre, celebrated the achievements of top athletes and sports personalities from the region. Awards recipients were recognised for their contribution to sports in the region and beyond in a number of categories, including the Frank Brennan Team Award, scooped up by the Newcastle Eagles and the Simon Bates Community Award, which went to the North East Visually Impaired Tennis Club.     

James was among the group of talented athletes to receive a Rising Star Award at the glittering ceremony. He said: “Winning the award is a pleasant surprise. It’s a great recognition of the success the club’s had, not just me personally. It’s recognition by the city of the progression the club has made over the last five-six years.”

The postgraduate history student rows for the Newcastle University senior team, coached by Angelo Savarino. His success comes in the wake of a string of leading performances by Newcastle University rowers across the UK and internationally.

He took part in the U23 World Championships in Bulgaria, where Great Britain’s coxless pair finished fourth. Last year, he rowed in the Boat Race of the North, which saw Team Newcastle defeated Durham University in the first race after the five-year hiatus.

James, from Northamptonshire, was part of Newcastle University’s men's four crew which won the title in the European University Championships in Germany.

He said: “The main driver to our success is the Head Coach, Angelo Savarino. He sets the programme and is responsible for selecting all the crews and for leading the coaching efforts. There are two other full-time coaches – Ciro Prisco and Alex Leigh. This means that this year we’ve got three full-time coaches, something that has never happened before. So, the coaching team has moved on, which is great and one of the keys to our success.

“Our programme is another factor to the success of Newcastle University Boat Club. It is the same programme used by the Italian National team. It’s a system that produced great success for Italy, one of the major rowing nations. This programme is really different from everything that everyone else does, and it works for us.

“Another key to success is the recruitment of good athletes.  The balance between good academics and a successful rowing programme that Newcastle University provides helps attract high-calibre rowers.”

The 21-year-old is now gearing up for a busy summer of rowing. He will be competing in the Boat Race of the North and the Head of the River in London.  He hopes to represent Great Britain' at the 2016 World Rowing U23 Championships in Rotterdam between 21-28 August.

James has also set his sights on Rio 2016. Following his success at the Boston trials, he has been invited for the GB Olympic trials in Caversham, taking place on March 21-23.

The Newcastle University sports scholar started rowing when he was seven. James was introduced to rowing by his father, a three-time Henley Royal Regatta winner and a National Team rower. As a junior, James raced in singles events, and it wasn’t until he was in secondary school when he started rowing in teams. James was named as part Newcastle University’s first eights in his first year, helping the crew to win the BUCS title.    

Ivan Lazarov 

published on: 21st March 2016