Award caps off successful season

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Fresh from the elation of being named Cromwell Sportsperson of the Year, masters rower Natalie Wilson (38) says she is now focused on “getting her feet back on the ground” and working on her next major competition, the World Masters Games in Auckland in April.

Mrs Wilson was named Senior Sportsperson of the Year before being named the Cromwell Sports Club’s overall winner at a function held in the Central Otago town on November 5.

“It is such a huge honour to receive this award. One of the really special aspects was being among so many other amazing athletes at the awards night, many who fly under the radar.”

The award caps off a successful 2015-16 season for the mother of two school-aged children who says she has successfully juggled parenthood and a part-time job as secretary of the Central Otago Wine Growers Association with training and competition.

“I make it a priority and not a chore. I’m lucky I have great support from my family, including my husband, who also used to row,” she said.

“We mostly train early in the morning, so it works in well with the kids and I can get back for the school run.

“I’m lucky my training can fit in around what they do, so it just makes for a super-busy household.”

Results include victories and placings in a variety of masters regattas, including Lake Hayes and Rotorua, and at the South Island and New Zealand Masters Championships.

Mrs Wilson says she competes in single, double and quad scull events and also rows with women’s eights teams.

At the 2016 New Zealand Masters Championships, she was a member of the winning double sculls crew and was second in the single scull and third in the women’s eight team.

Her passion for rowing started when she was a secondary school pupil at Whanganui Girls’ College. She has been competing in the masters division for the past eight years.

“To be honest, it comes from a love of all water sports. I was originally a swimmer and there is a natural progression from swimming to rowing.

“What is it about rowing? It is an amazing feeling that at times feels like flying – it is so effortless.

“One of the things I also love about rowing, in addition to being out on the water, is being part of a tight team and the camaraderie that goes along with it. You can’t row a boat by yourself and you’re reliant on all your team-mates to work together to make the boat go faster,” she said.

Central Otago provided “an endless training ground” for her sport.

“There are just kilometres of waterways and it is usually always possible to find somewhere sheltered to row.”

A member of the Cromwell Rowing Club, she was behind the successful Indoor Rowing Challenge held last month and is on a subcommittee looking into the need for new clubrooms.

The focus was now on the World Masters Games, where she would team up with other Central Otago rowers Maude O’Connell, of Cromwell, and Rebecca Kingan and Simon Smith, of Dunstan.

Awards Results:

Sportsperson of the Year: Natalie Wilson (rowing)

Junior Sportsperson: Caleb Madden (squash)

Team of the Year: BWC Cromwell Premiers (rugby)

Senior Sportsperson: Natalie Wilson (rowing)

Service to Sport: Jackie Hamilton (squash)