Luigi Teilemb passes on some basic rowing skills to Selma Theimbourone with crowds

of VASANOC Olympic Day attendees thronging the area outside the Rowing Club.

We all know in a relay race, each runner must pass on the baton to the next runner. From this sporting rule, the term “passing the baton” has come to mean passing on knowledge and skills to the next person. The Vanuatu Association of Sports and National Olympic Committee (VASANOC) organised Olympic Day on Saturday to celebrate both the Olympic but also VASNOC’s 30th anniversary saw two Ni Vanuatu Olympians pass on the baton of their sporting skills.

Nasario Fiakaifono Judo Olympian and Luigi Teillemb Rower in 2016 Olympics in Rio, came along to demonstrate some basic techniques to young Ni-Vanuatu eager to try a new sport.

Long lines formed behind each of the four Concept rowing machines placed outside the Rowing Club to get a bit of the bright sun and cool breeze coming off the Lagoon. Each machine had a rostered coach to lead the novices trying rowing for the first time. The Club encourages its 21 qualified Ni-Vanuatu coaches to give back to the Club by volunteering to help with coaching, or maintaining the equipment and The Club itself – mowing, cleaning and repairs. Rio Rii, Tom Mayong, Tom Pata – all talented, experienced coaches — worked beside some of the younger coaches and rowers all day, eager to encourage others to not just try the sport but join the Club and row seriously.

“We see people in the gym using rowing machines the wrong way,” explains Allan Kalfabun, Club Captain. “If you don’t know how to use a rowing machine properly, you can really do yourself an injury, plus pick up very bad habits that take a long time to remediate when you come along to learn to row properly from the beginning.”

All new rowers start on the rowing machines. Ten minutes with a qualified coach gives an aspiring rower all the basic skills. So that when they head out onto the water fifteen minutes after arriving at the Club, they can row away in one of the Club’s training tubs – broad, stable rowing shells specially designed for beginners. That start is the easy part. It’s a long hard road ahead for a beginner rowing to compete with all the skills and endurance to row in an Olympic Games.

“We’re looking for young new talent for the Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Area in late 2018,” remarked Andrew Mackenzie, himself a well-qualified High Performance coach, “So days like this are very important. We’ve started a registration list for girls born in 2000 or 2001 and I’m looking for young men willing to commit to a demanding regime of rowing and gym work.”

So “passing the baton” may well have occurred at VASANOC’s Olympic Day with one of the hundreds of young hopefuls attending the day, heading off to the Youth Olympics wearing Vanuatu colours! If not, it was a great day to try out a new sport, meet new friends and improve fitness.

“Trying rowing was a lot a fun,” said Selina Theimbourone. “And wait ‘til I tell my family I was being coached by an Olympian!”

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