Dumfries student determined to be part of boat race

A Dumfries student is drawing on years of sibling rivalry while vying for a coveted seat in this year’s Aberdeen Standard Investments Boat Race. If chosen, Andrew Dunse will go on to represent the University of Aberdeen in one of North-east’s most hotly-contested sporting events on March 23.

For Andrew (19), now in his 10th year of rowing, getting into the sport was an obvious choice as a child. Coming from a family of rowers he took to the sport like a duck to water.

With two older brothers also into rowing, a friendly rivalry soon bubbled to the surface and Andrew developed a competitive streak. As his eldest brother began to row for Scotland, Andrew cultivated the same aspirations.

Even at the age of nine, he was determined to beat both of his brothers and rowing quickly turned into a long-lasting passion. Just like his brother, Andrew went on to represent Scotland in 2017 and achieved better results in high ranking competitions, including the Scottish championships.

Health and exercise science student Andrew said: “I always saw my older brothers do so well in rowing and, as the youngest child, I wanted to be as good as them, if not better. Now as an adult, I’ve had the opportunity to compete with my brothers in two races, and I ended up getting the better results out of the three of us.

“It’s always fun to race against them – it makes the race more thrilling – but I would really like to be in the same crew as them one day. We’ve had similar training and I think rowing together would result in fast boat speed and lively racing.

“You could also say my competitive side got me to enter high ranking competitions. In 2017, I was selected to be part of the Scottish rowing team in my last year as a junior, where we were up against the other home countries – England, Ireland and Wales. This has been my greatest achievement in rowing.

“Now with the Aberdeen Standard Investments Boat Race in sight, I really do hope I am selected. The competitive side of me is ready to take on the rivalry between the two universities. The team this year is strong, so it’s hard to tell who will be in the race. I will, however, keep training to earn my seat. Being chosen to represent my university would be an honour. I am ready to give this opportunity my maximum effort.”

Over the years Andrew has learned that rowing, despite its highs, also has its lows. The sky’s the limit when it comes to achieving the highest standard and it takes strenuous training, hard work and commitment. But Andrew has a motivational quote he lives by when the going gets tough: ‘It’s hard to beat a person who never gives up.’

He added: “ I’ve realised that everyone who wants to take their rowing to a high standard is doing similar training. However, to become the best you must be the person who will not ease off the pain, even when everything in your body is screaming for you to stop. I think it’s at this point that whoever can handle the pain will have a medal around their neck in the end.

“I do try to be that individual who will never give in, even if it gets harder and harder. Just as in day to day life, you have good days as well as the bad days with rowing. There have been several occasions where I almost stopped during training sessions. However, I remind myself the pain I’m feeling is just a sore muscle, and not a torn one. Casually dancing about before a rowing session also helps me loosen up ahead of training.”

Although he is in his still in his first year at university, Andrew already has his future career on his mind. His dream is to become a rowing or swimming coach where he can help individuals achieve their goals. He says, “I feel my rowing experience has helped me develop my coaching skills through a variety of drills, practices and programmes – I think this has helped me get a good feel of what works and what doesn’t when it comes to training.

“I also want to be able to support future athletes using effective motivation strategies and self-discipline. When I changed clubs for my last year of junior rowing, I was unable to train with the team, as our club was a two-hour drive from my home. But with the right amount of self-discipline, I was able to do most of the training by myself. This experience influenced my attitude towards training in a positive way, which I think was essential and helped me persevere.”

Andrew is one of many rowers hoping to be selected for the Aberdeen Standard Investments Boat Race on March 23. The race will see the University of Aberdeen face off against their rivals Robert Gordon University on a 3.5km stretch of the River Dee, from the Bridge of Dee up to the Aberdeen Boat Club.

Martin Gilbert, co-CEO of Aberdeen Standard Investments, “Andrew’s commitment to rowing is admirable. It’s a testament to his determination to excel in the sport and to become an example of success for others. It takes a lot of courage and endurance for these students who, alongside their academic work, find the time and energy to train; they all merit our support and admiration.”

The race day schedule begins with the toss for stations at 1.20pm. This is followed by the second crew race at 2pm, with the alumni race at 2.20pm. The Aberdeen Standard Investments Boat Race then takes place at 3.20pm.

Andrew in action on the water

Andrew in action on the water

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