London, UK| Nearly 3,000 competed in the world’s largest and most inclusive indoor rowing competition, the National Junior Indoor Rowing Championships (NJIRC), last week on Friday 3 March 2023.
Marking the return of the in-person event for the first time since 2020, and following two hugely successful years as a virtual event, NJIRC 2023 was hosted across two venues for the first time: London’s Copper Box Arena on Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and the John Charles Centre for Sport in Leeds.
Organised by London Youth Rowing (LYR) since 2007, this year’s edition of NJIRC, saw 2,800 competitors across both venues for schools, clubs and community groups take part in a full day of indoor rowing racing.
The 2,000 competitors taking part in NJIRC’s flagship London venue at the iconic Copper Box Arena were watched on by greats of the sport including five-time Olympic champion Sir Steve Redgrave, who is also Chair of Henley Royal Regatta Charitable Trust, and Arshay Cooper who is a member of the first African American high school rowing team, made up of young men, many of whom were in rival gangs from the West Side of Chicago, Cooper visited NJIRC after hearing about the work LYR is doing to increase diversity in the sport, and the official trailer for Cooper’s film, A Most Beautiful Thing, was played at the start of the event, alongside an interview between Cooper and LYR’s very own three-time Olympic champion Andy Triggs-Hodge.
The full results from NJIRC 2023 are available here, with some of the key highlights including:
• Over 150 young people with special educational needs or a disability (SEND) entered.
• National champions crowned in each year group for both SEND and mainstream pupils.
• A clean sweep of the national rankings for Drumbeat School (London) in the Year 13 Boys SEND race. Drumbeat School are part of LYR’s Active Row London programme.
• The inaugural running of the Henley Royal Regatta Charitable Trust Sprint Relay event, with teams of four racing 2112m, the length of the Henley Regatta course. National Champions were Northampton School for Boys (Boys) and The Gorse Boat Club (Girls).
• Four individual national champions and Boat Race Relay champions coming from Northampton School for Boys.
• 6 of the national champions coming from the Leeds event, reflecting the strength of the competition at both venues.
As in previous years, NJIRC 2023 received valuable continued support from Sport England as part of their support for LYR’s engagement and Talent Inclusion programmes, and Concept 2 UK, who provide equipment and expertise to help run NJIRC each year in addition to directly supporting LYR’s newly-launched Active Row Nottingham programme.
Henley Royal Regatta Charity Trust (HRRCT) and British Rowing also continued their support in the running of the 2023 event, as part of the work from both organisations to make rowing as inclusive and accessible as possible.
Matt Rostron, LYR CEO, said: “Once again, NJIRC delivered not only a truly brilliant sporting event, but supported our objectives of increasing the opportunities and possibilities for so many young people across the country.
“Despite very successful virtual events, bringing back NJIRC in person generated so much excitement for everyone involved. For so many young people, it’s the highlight of their sporting year and the race that they all strove for.
“We are delighted to have had nearly 3,000 competitors spread across two venues and well done to all involved. We would like to thanks everyone who came together to make this happen, including our key partners in Henley Royal Regatta Charitable Trust, British Rowing, Sport England and Concept2.”
Sir Steve Redgrave, Chairman of the Henley Royal Regatta Charitable Trust, said: “What NJIRC has done, and has been doing for a number of years, is vitally important. And now, having one up in Leeds on the same day, is fantastic.
“It's about engaging people, getting into the sport and having opportunity. The more opportunities that we can widen our youth in all sorts of areas, the more it's going to improve their lives and improve society.”
Arshay Cooper, author of A Most Beautiful Thing said: “NJIRC, I had an absolutely amazing time. I mean honestly, the diversity here I didn't expect and there's a lot of power in that, to see that this is what rowing can look like. The boathouse is going to soon reflect the diversity in this country and give other kids the opportunity to just be able to say to themselves that some things you won't see unless you do. I am excited to see what's happening with LYR.”
For more information, and to enter, please visit www.njirc.co.uk