Mount Riverview’s Max Duignan will head into this month’s Australian Open Rowing Championships with a national title in sight after hitting a streak of red hot form in the lead-up to the Penrith event.
The 15-year-old won the under-17 NSW single scull at the NSW rowing championships on February 17 and took out the Year 10 single scull at the NSW Schoolboy Head of the River regatta the following weekend.
Duignan claimed both titles in convincing fashion, winning the state championships by 14 seconds and the Head of the River challenge by 18 seconds.
His form makes him one of the favourites at the national titles starting on March 18 but it is pressure the young rower can handle, according to his coach, Katoomba’s Ray Green.
“It’s very hard to get those sort of people,” said Green, who was awarded an OAM for his service to rowing three years ago.
Duignan has enjoyed a rapid rise in the sport since taking up rowing in late 2010. He won Penrith Rowing Club’s first state title in the under-16 single scull in 2012 and his form has only continued to improve.
The Penrith High School student won another medal in the under-17 double sculls at this year’s NSW championships with his training partner, Glenbrook’s Hamish Cullen.
“We’d [only] been rowing together for one month before the nationals and we got third,” said Duignan.
Claiming a podium finish in the tightly fought race was even sweeter for Blue Mountains Grammar School student Cullen, who only took up the sport six months ago.
Woodford’s Henry Robinson is another Blue Mountains teenager making waves in rowing. Green described the Springwood High School student as an “up and coming star” after he came sixth in the under-16 single scull at the state championships after only five months in the sport.
But the Year 9 student will have to watch his training partners from the sidelines at Penrith Regatta Centre later this month as under-16 events aren’t included in the national championships.
Ray Green said it is no surprise the Blue Mountains is starting to produce promising rowers. With Penrith on its doorstep — and support from local business people like Mark Jarvis of The Carrington Hotel and Maurice Cooper of Bygone Beautys — the sport has strong potential for growth, he said.
The Sydney International Rowing Regatta, including the Australian Open Rowing Championships, will be held from March 18-24.