Andy Nokes and Paul Hardy won gold while in France competing in a 65 to 70 age category race. (Photo by Andy Nokes)

Andy Nokes and Paul Hardy won gold while in France competing in a 65 to 70 age category race. (Photo by Andy Nokes)

Central Alberta rower wins gold in international competition

The pair finished race just under 4 minutes

A central Alberta man has returned from the 2022 World Rowing Masters Regatta in France with a gold medal.

Andy Nokes, who lives west of Lacombe, got first during the 65 to 70 age category race last month, which was a doubles event he completed with his teammate Paul Hardy.

After a slow start, Nokes said they caught up to the third spot in the first 500 metres and made up more ground in the second 500m stretch before finishing well ahead of the second place Northern Ireland team. Nokes and Hardy completed the 1,000-metre race in three minutes and 58 seconds.

“We finished eight seconds ahead of the second crew so it was a clear win,” Nokes said. “Can always be faster but between three minutes and 50 seconds and four minutes is pretty good for our age category.”

This race he said was tough because generally when you’re racing you don’t watch the other crews, so not knowing whether they were in first or last they gave it everything they had.

“It’s not a situation where when you’re ahead of the other crews you slack off. The last 250m we took the number of strokes per minute up and it was an acceleration to the finish line,” he said.

The 68-year-old man took part in three other races between Sept. 7-11 where the third-place finish was their best performance. Finishing first he admitted was a great reward for all the extensive training they put in as preparation over the last year.

Nokes explained he felt his biggest challenge was psychological because right around the 500m mark he began to feel the pain of the strenuous workload but pushed himself to see it through.

“It’s tough from two points: Physically it’s tough and then mentally you don’t know where you are in relation to your competition. We didn’t know because we were fairly slow off the start but then you wonder are we going to catch up and overtake,” he said.

His job was to set the pace and so they began at 34 strokes per minute before turning it up to 36 strokes per minute in the final stretch of the competition.

Each race he said was treated like a final and would start a race every three minutes. He said one of the best experiences was meeting people from all over the world and competing against approximately 4,700 competitors. During the race he won gold in there were teams from Northern Ireland, France, Netherlands, Germany, Great Britain, and Denmark.

“It’s a marvelous international event… and it’s really an international gathering.”

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