Rebecca Romero returns to her roots

Three Kingston RC members – Olympic gold medallist Rebecca Romero, former GB athlete Vic Fangen and club stalwart Peter King – were honoured during a special boat naming ceremony at Kingston yesterday.

Ian South, Director of Coaching, said that the new boats – a Hudson, a Stampfli coxed four and a Janousek double scull – were named after the three guests who had each made an outstanding difference to Kingston RC.

After the boat christening, Rebecca produced her gold medal to much applause, and said, “It’s exactly 11 years since I turned up in the gym as a newcomer to the club. Ian (South) looked at some of the scores I was doing and said that one day I could row for GB.”

Kingston is my home and although I haven’t been here for many years, there’s all these friendly faces. I’ve come back with a gold medal in a different sport but to be honoured in this way is testament to Kingston RC and I’m so grateful. Kingston RC really enabled all this to happen.”

Rebecca is the first British woman ever to win Olympic medals in two different disciplines. In 2004, she was a silver medallist in the women’s quad at the Athens Olympics, before switching to cycling and clinching a gold in the individual pursuit this year in Beijing.

“It’s the lid that goes on the top of everything. I want a gold bottle top!” she said.

Vic Fangen, who progressed through the junior ranks at Kingston, going on to collect five Henley medals as well as representing GB three times, said she was “hugely honoured” to have a boat named after her.

Now based in the French Alps, she added, “I loved my time here at KRC – it’s a fantastic place. I rowed here actively for ten years, six days a week so it’s wonderful to come back. I miss the camaraderie that rowing provides – but I don’t miss the early morning starts!”

A member of Kingston RC for 45 years, Peter King has organised the Kingston Head of the River since 1990. “I feel very honoured to be with such notable oarswomen,” he commented.

It was also a day for acknowledging exceptional junior members. Max Wood, Emily Meyer, Kitty Sandys and Fionith Dugdale were all recipients of The Jack Petchey Achievement Awards, a London-based scheme. Each winner received a certificate plus a cheque to be used to help develop Kingston RC in the area of their choice.

Meanwhile Roxy Ayling and Ellie Warner claimed the Best Achievement Award in the junior squad.

Two lucky juniors also enjoyed a row with an Olympic champion as Rebecca took to the water for the first time since winning a gold medal at the 2005 World Championships.

“Just like I never finished – it comes so naturally,” she remarked afterwards.

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