MANNING River Rowing Club product Tess Gerrand is off to the London Olympics following the superb victory by the Australian women’s eight in the final Olympic qualification regatta in Lucerne, Switzerland this week.
Tess, who started rowing with the Manning club when she was 14, rowed in the three seat. The Australians needed a top two finish to secure a berth for London and they did it in emphatic style, powering away from the field to finish in first place.
Her parents, Daintry and Ian Gerrand were nervously following the race via the internet at their Johns River home.
“It was an early start for us, the race was on at 2.20am,’’ Daintry said.
“There was a live stream of the race and we were able to get the split times.’’
The Gerrands had a small group of friends over for the race.
“We had a bit of a celebration afterwards. One of the girls I used to row with, Megan Nicholson, was with us, but she had to leave to do the milking, so we had to cut it short,’’ Daintry said.
“Tess rang us soon after. She was ecstatic - what those girls have achieved in such a short time is unbelievable.’’
The Australians will be based at Rowing Australia’s training facility in Italy until the start of the Olympics on July 27. This weekend the crew will contest a World Cup round in Lucerne.
Here they’ll be up against the medal favourites for the Olympics.
“The US - the world champions will be there along with Great Britain and the Netherlands,’’ Daintry said.
“So this will give them an idea where they’re standing at the monent. But they’re improving all the time - they’ve only been together about five weeks so to achieve what they already have is amazing.’’
Daintry is now making plans to go to London where she’ll be accompanied by her son, Fletcher, who is currently serving his second tour of duty in Afghanistan with the Australian army.
“Everything is falling into place,’’ she said. “Fletcher will complete his tour in early July so it looks as though he’ll be right to come to London with me. As family members we’ll get two free tickets to the rowing.’’
The Gerrands also have friends in London where they can stay.
Tess, now 24 and a member of the Sydney Rowing Club, followed her mum into rowing.
“Her first coaches were Errol Brazenall and Graham Nix,’’ Daintry recalled.
“I remember Errol saying not long after Tess took up rowing that he thought she’d one day represent Australia.’’
Coach of the Australian eight, Nick Garratt, said he was proud of the way the crew had approached the regatta.
“I couldn’t be happier with how the girls have performed across the last three days but this is just the start for them,” Garratt said. “They have an Olympics to prepare for now.
“They always knew the other crews would throw down the challenge early in the race today, but they stuck to their plan and then finished the job superbly.”