ROWINGISLAND rowers Steve Salter and Ash Maitland pulled out all the stops at the National Rowing Championships in Strathclyde, Scotland, last weekend to win five gold medals between them.
And to put icing on the cake, the long-time friends and former Ryde High School students have now been selected as England’s lightweight coxless pair at the home countries’ international regatta in Cork tomorrow (Saturday).
Steve and Ash, rowing in the colours of their primary club, London Rowing Club, won gold the lightweight pairs and lightweight coxless fours.
Steve, a member of Newport Rowing Club, also took gold in the coxed eights, after an injury to a fellow club member.
In the pairs event, Steve and Ash, a member of Ryde Rowing Club, were in third with 500m to go. Ash called for a push, and their efforts were rewarded when they drew level with the leaders at 50m.
The pair kept the momentum going and crossed the line as winners by the narrowest of margins, just 0.56 of a second.
In the lightweight coxless fours, Steve, Ash and two others stormed to victory for their second gold each before Steve took his third in the eights, with a another dominant display where the London crew led from start to finish.
Steve, 26, has been a member at Newport for four years and joined London when he got a job in the area. Ash joined him a year later.
Speaking about their pairs win, Steve said: "We’ve been rowing in the fours and eights but rowing the pairs was a bit of a side project for us.
"It is a pretty big thing for us to be selected for England. It is a goal I’ve had for some time and, although I can’t speak for him, I’m sure Ash feels the same.
"We were in third with about 500m to go in the final but we knew that, if we could be the first English pair over the line, we would be selected for this weekend’s event.
"The carrot of rowing for England was enough to spur us on and we did it, overtaking the leaders in the final 100m."
Not only do the pair have the chance to row for gold in their specialist event, they also have the prospect of representing England in the coxed eights, as the team for that event will be picked in Ireland.
"Rowing for England at this championship is one of the biggest things an amateur rower can do," Steve added. "The standard is not at the level you see on television but it is the pinnacle for us."
Later in the year, Steve will be hoping to carry his good form on to the South Coast Championship regatta, where he will be representing Newport in the open senior fours event.