Family gives inspiration
Ben Watkinson is following in the wake of his great uncle, who rowed for New Zealand at two Olympic games.
Watkinson lives in Cox’s Bay and attends Dilworth school.
He was the gold medal winner of the under-18 single sculls at the Maadi Cup held earlier this month in Twizel.
Following that win, Watkinson was asked to trial for the New Zealand Junior rowing squad at Lake Karapiro this week.
Dilworth School stopped its rowing programme two years ago but Watkinson was determined to continue and joined West End Rowing Club.
He had success earlier this year for his club, winning gold at the North Island club champs in February. Competing at Maadi was still at the top of his list, so he approached his school for support.
‘‘After the club season finished, I asked my school if I could represent it at Maadi Cup and they were more than happy for me to,’’ the 17-year-old says.
As he was the only rower from his school, Watkinson went with the Saint Peters College team.
Watkinson says he takes inspiration from his great uncle Murray Watkinson, who represented New Zealand at both the 1964 and 1972 Olympic games, where he placed fifth and tenth respectively. Murray Watkinson also trained at West End Rowing. He had major success at the 1962 British Empire and Commonwealth Games where he won a silver medal, and at the 1971 European champion- ships where he won bronze.
Ben Watkinson has been offered scholarships to both Harvard and Yale universities in the United States next year.
He is considering both offers but would like to try his luck for the New Zealand elite development programme.
‘‘While the scholarships would be great, the programme offers a pathway for junior athletes to have the best shot at future success in their sport,’’ he says.
If he does take up a scholarship, he plans to study either graphic or product design.
Above, Ben Watkinson celebrates winning the under-18 single sculls at the 2015 Maadi Cup.
Left, Ben Watkinson, who attends Dilworth school, with his coach Lloyd Banton.