For the second instalment of our Waikato Wāhine in Rowing, we would like to introduce you to Rachel Gamble-Flint, Director of Rowing and Girls Coach at St Paul’s Collegiate School. Rachel has quite the rowing resume and has used rowing to raise money for a often overlooked need.
When we asked Rachel what she enjoyed most about rowing, she shared that it was about providing young people with the opportunity to a club that teaches them important life skills. Skills such as teamwork, leadership, commitment, and resilience, are invaluable to our young adults as they go through life. She also mentioned that she enjoys seeing them thrive while being part of the community and having fun.
Rachel was first introduced to rowing at the age of 13 years but really didn’t enjoy it! It was until she tried it again a year later and at a different school where it was offered that she got hooked. From then on instead of swimming, representing Britain in rowing was her Olympic dream.
Now Rachel isn’t your average rower either. Her proudest moment was completing an epic 100k coastal row from Wellington to Picton. She was part of a group that established a charity ‘Through the Blue’ to provide teachers and schools with resources and workshops to help with the early identification and intervention of mental health issue in NZ teenagers. To raise funds for the charity Rachel and 3 others embarked on the 100k coastal row.
Rachel believes prevention of poor mental is an often-overlooked vital area. When summing up the 100k experience she said
“I am super proud of this due to the team achievement of both the row and charity project, including the ongoing workshops the fundraising continues to fund. Personally, this was a huge mental and physical challenge that pushed my limits. I was in charge of the logistics of the row and navigating the Cook Strait safely was a mammoth planning task”.
What made it challenging was that it was her first stint of rowing since retiring from her professional career, which also included recovery from surgery for a back and hip injury. Rachel represented Britain as a member of the Junior squad in 2004 and continued through to the senior elites in 2014 before moving to NZ.
Oarsome foursome . . . Friends (from left) Rachel Gamble-Flint, Tina Manker, Johannah Kearney and Eleanor Morris are preparing to row across Cook Strait. PHOTO: MAX TOWLE/WIRELESS
When Rachel reflects on her rowing career, she shared that the most influential life lesson she has gained from rowing and wanted to share with others is that "there is no substitute for hard work and commitment". There have been moments where she didn’t the results she wanted, even if she put it all out there. But ultimately, she always walked away with a sense of satisfaction from giving it her best efforts.
With that in mind, we asked Rachel, what else she wanted to share with women wanting to take rowing or considering getting more involved in their club. She quickly said "rowing is a sport that is more than actual rowing! It is vehicle into a world of opportunities from improving your physical and mental health and fitness, helping others with theirs, connecting with a community of like-minded people and learning many transferable life skills in the process."
Rachel has been a rower and now is contributing as a coach. She has learnt that sport, in general is an amazing way to learn valuable lessons about herself and others that have attributed to success in other aspects of her life. Looking forward she wants to coach and help as many people as possible to experience rowing and can benefit from what the sport has to offer. And it doesn’t matter whether they want to row a couple of times a week, for general health and fitness or to compete for NZ at the World Champs and Olympics.