There will be a strong Jeppe connection when the South African Junior rowing squad competes at the 2021 World Rowing Junior Championship to be held in Plovdiv, Bulgaria, from August 11th to 15th.
Rowing captain, Nic Bonthuys, will be rowing in the double race along with Jordan Craig of St Dunstan’s, and Jeppe 1st team rowing coach, Mr Chris Paynter will accompany them as their coach.
Mr Paynter is a Jeppe old boy. He was vice-captain of Jeppe rowing in 2012. There is another Jeppe old boy among the coaches who will be going to Bulgaria. He is Thato Mokoena who matriculated in 2007 and represented South Africa at the Junior World Championships that year. He is the rowing coach at St Benedict’s and will be coaching the four crew.
Mr Paynter joined the Jeppe staff as a teaching intern and rowing coach this year after spending two years at Parktown Boys’ High. “I was coaching part time at Jeppe when I was asked to help Parktown get their rowing back on track,” he explained. “I think we had a lot of success in that. In 2018 they got a first eight back in the water and 2019 we got two rowers into the junior national team. I learnt a tremendous amount at Parktown and I have been able to put some of that into practice at Jeppe.”
In 2019 Mr Paynter was a coach at the Junior World Championships, so this is not new to him. “I guess I got chosen this time around because we had rowers in the national squad, and so I was involved throughout the process. In the end my selection as coach is a reflection on the achievements of the Jeppe rowers, and on the systems we have put into place.”
At this stage it’s all systems go preparing for the champs, although Covid-19 has disrupted training and the team’s participation is still not certain.“The senior SA rowing body is confident that we will be going, so we are hard at training,” Mr Paynter said. “Getting onto the water is tricky because of travel restrictions under the latest regulations, so most of the training is ergo-based at the moment. This is, however, a national team not a school one, so we are hoping to get out to the dam soon.”
Mr Paynter is optimistic about the future of Jeppe rowing. “That the club has done so well despite not having the same equipment as some of the private schools speaks volumes for the talent and determination of our boys. Now that we have made additions to our fleet, including a state-of-the-art new eight boat, we can only go from strength to strength.”