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Aberdeen’s universities invest in High Performance Rowing Coach

Robert Gordon University and the University of Aberdeen have appointed a full-time professional High Performance Rowing Coach to nurture and support the next generation of rowing talent for Scotland and Great Britain. Supported by Scottish Rowing and sportscotland, the Aberdeen Head of Performance Rowing will be responsible for leading on the day-to-day coaching and training programme with a focus on identifying and developing talented athletes to an Under 23 international standard. 34-year-old Michael Hughes arrives in Aberdeen following a hugely successful 3 years coaching at Newcastle University, one of the leading rowing programmes in the country, where he had specific responsibility for recruitment and talent development.

Commenting on his appointment, Michael said: “Aberdeen has an impressive history of producing talented and successful rowers and one of the key aims of this partnership is to look for the next generation of oarsmen and women who are yet to pick up an oar and give them every opportunity to excel in the sport. I hope that somewhere in Aberdeen there is a budding Katherine Grainger! “We also want Aberdeen to become the first choice destination for junior rowers who want to continue the sport at university. Between them, Robert Gordon University and the University of Aberdeen offer a fantastic range of degrees such as medicine, architecture, engineering, pharmacy and sports science; with both institutions offering scholarships and bursaries for talented athletes.” Michael aims to make the most of the excellent resources available to committed rowers in Aberdeen through the partnership between the universities, Scottish Rowing and the sportscotland institute of sport which includes access to sports science expertise, strength and conditioning, nutrition, physiology, bio-mechanics and performance lifestyle management.

He adds: “Rowing is a sport that pushes the body and mind to the limits and beyond. One of my key responsibilities will be to prepare our athletes for the demands this sport makes on those who want to excel at competition, Scottish and GB Rowing Team trials. “Together we hope to help Aberdeen’s university clubs gain a reputation as being amongst the best in the country.”

Neil Brown, Sports Programmes Manager at RGU: SPORT, comments: “The Aberdeen Head of Performance Rowing post demonstrates a real investment in rowing in Aberdeen, giving our students a distinct advantage and offering them a level of training and support usually reserved for international athletes. “Over the last 8 years, the RGU Boat Club has progressed in respect to performance and with this additional support we hope to build on the momentum the students have generated. “This type of investment looks at the long-term future of the sport in the area and supports the Scottish Rowing outcome of increasing the numbers of Scottish athletes on GB Under 23 teams.”

Head of Sport for the University of Aberdeen, Donald Pirie, said: “The University of Aberdeen has a long and proud tradition in rowing stretching back nearly 150 years. “Our current squad of rowers are of the high calibre we have become renowned for over the years and Michael’s appointment as the new High Performance Rowing coach will help take our athletes’ potential to another level. “We look forward to this exciting new opportunity and to working with Michael to further enhance our reputation throughout the country for producing quality rowers and rowing squads.”

Lee Boucher, Scottish Rowing’s High Performance Co-ordinator, added: “Scottish Rowing and the sportscotland institute of sport are delighted to be part of this ground-breaking partnership with Robert Gordon University and the University of Aberdeen which aims to increase the number of Scottish athletes on GB Rowing teams. “Team GB’s rowers made history at London 2012 and 80% of this team had come through University rowing programmes, including an incredible 22% who had picked the sport up for the first time during their student years, outlining the importance of this key strategic appointment.”