Hilton College pupil crowned SA U19 rowing champ

2012-03-13 00:00

HILTON College’s Kyle Schoonbee was crowned the South ­African U19 rowing champion at the SA rowing championships.

The Johannesburg-born Sch-oonbee won a gold medal in the SA U19 scull, and is ranked number one in South Africa. He also won a gold medal in the SA U19 doubles with Matt Gearing, and the pair also broke the SA record. A silver medal was won in the SA U19 squad as well, and the pair were involved in ­breaking the SA record in the process.

In Grade 11, Schoonbee says that he trains with the Hilton College crew at Midmar Dam, and gives credit to Gearing’s role in his success.

“Matt was an important component in the doubles race” Schoonbee told The Witness on Monday.

What made Schoonbee take up the sport? “Well, my dad was a rower, and I guess it’s a case of wanting to follow in your father’s footsteps. My dad and Hilton College rowing-coach Ernie Steen-kamp have been the biggest influence on my career.

“My ultimate goal would be to go to the Olympics and win a medal, but the next immediate step for me will be the 2012 junior world rowing champs in Bulgaria.”

Schoonbee said key factors in his success have been the ­access to facilities that is provided by Hilton College, as well as the opp­ortunities the school has given him in his quest to excel in the sport.

And as in most sporting success stories, family interest also plays a major role. Schoonbee says his family is very supportive, and his younger brother and sister cannot wait to get more involved in the sport. No other sport has seriously competed for rowing’s attention in Schoonbee’s life.

“I don’t play any other sports, as my focus is rowing,” said Schoonbee, who is in matric next year.

After schooldays are behind him, he is planning to study at Tuks in Pretoria, while training at the university’s high-performance centre. And then it’s on to that mecca of rowing, Cambridge University.

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