Sunday 1st April saw the now traditional Schoolgirls Head of the River with over thirty schools battling out events from single sculls to eights at the Regatta Centre at Penrith. The current World Champions in the Women?s Double Scull, Brooke Pratley and Liz Kell were Guest of Honour at the Regatta and just prior to resumption of racing after lunch were interviewed in front of the grandstand crowd by Gordon Bray. Gordon took Liz and Brooke through the story of their remarkable victory at the 2006 World Championships at Eton when they upset the reigning Olympic and World Champions.
With the interview concluded a plaque was presented to each of the world champions. Di Coterill-Dormer, the Deputy Principal of MLC Burwood presented to Liz Kell. Liz had attended MLC Burwood and began rowing while a student there. Chris Noel, President of NSWRA made the presentation to Brooke Pratley.
The plaques showed three photos of their crew, one at the start of the World Championship final with Australia just behind the defending champions New Zealand and ultimate second placegetters, one in mid-race where Liz and Brooke had taken the lead and the third showing a happy crew on the podium with their gold medals. An Australian colours oar encased in the frame was printed with details of their crew and a small window at the top showed the logo of the 2006 World Championships with details of their win. The narrative dubbed the crew ?The Australian Queens of Double Sculling? and a brass tag attached to the frame read “Presented to Brooke Pratley and Liz Kell by New South Wales Rowing to commemorate your World Championship in 2006”?.
Following the presentations Brooke and Liz presented trophies to a number of finals in the single, double and quad sculls.
New South Wales rowing and Combined Independent Schools felt this was a fitting way to honour our state?s highest achievers in international rowing.
A slightly down note to the day?s celebrations was the news revealed in the interview with Gordon Bray that due to a chronic back injury to Liz Kell the 2006 double scull champions will not be able to defend their title in 2007 in Munich. Liz advised that she will be undergoing surgery to repair damaged discs in her back and will miss selection for the Australia team in 2007. Liz is hopeful of returning to training later this year in a bid to join up with Brooke and represent at the 2008 Olympics.
In the meantime Brooke has recovered well from a slight illness at the 2006 Nationals and has begun putting on some of the considerable weight she lost at that time. In the recent National Selection ergometer trials Brooke topped the rankings for Senior A women in Australia.
New South Wales Rowing would like to thank Brooke Pratley and Liz Kell for coming up from Canberra for the day as our guests and wish them both all the best, for Brooke for selection in our national team for 2007 and to Liz for a speedy and successful recovery from her surgery later this month.
Finally thanks to Gordon Bray who graciously assisted NSWRA with his interviews with Liz and Brooke on the day.
The regatta concluded at 2.40 pm with the final of the Schoolgirl Eights and once again the winner was Pymble Ladies College who took out the title despite a strong challenge from PLC Sydney. The girls from Pymble won this event in 1999 and have won each year since then. Pymble won by 2 seconds from PLC Sydney with Loreto Kirribilli in third. The winning time was 6 mins 48 seconds.