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Sam creates history

Julian Peach
Monday, August 11, 2014

SUVA-born Sam Hamilton-Peach is the first Fijian to compete at the prestigious international rowing championship held annually at Henley-on-Thames, England.

Sam's father Julian is from United Kingdom while his mother, Niumai, comes from Rewa.

Sam's family living in Fiji have supported and encouraged him in sports. Sam competed in the main event for schoolboys which was held on 2-6 July.

He competed as part of St Edward's school 1st VIII for the Princess Elizabeth Challenge Cup and came second in the final, a fantastic achievement for Fiji.

Henley Royal Regatta was first held in 1839. The Regatta was instituted long before national or international rowing federations were established, so it is operated under its own rules.

Unlike multi-lane international regattas, Henley still operates a knock-out draw with only two boats racing in each heat. This entails the organisation of up to 90 races on some of the five days.

All the competitors in the twenty events race over the same course along the river Thames in the town of Henley-on-Thames, north-west of London and southeast of Oxford. The length of the course is 1 mile 550 yards, or 2,112 metres.

It takes approximately seven minutes to complete the course.

Recent years have seen entries of international quality from Australia, Canada, Croatia, Denmark, Estonia, France, Poland, the Netherlands, the U.S.A., Germany, the Czech Republic, the Ukraine, South Africa, Slovenia, Greece, China and Great Britain.

Every year Henley is visited by many crews from abroad and this year 107 of the total 494 crews were from overseas.

The total cost of staging the five-day Regatta is now near £3 million a year. About 85 per cent of this is derived from subscriptions paid by Members of the Stewards' Enclosure and their purchases of additional badges and services for their guests.

The Regatta is one of the few major sporting occasions today which is run without any reliance upon commercial sponsorship or outside subsidy.

Those attending the Regatta in the Stewards' Enclosure must dress in accordance with long-established tradition.

Gentlemen are required to wear lounge suits, or jackets or blazers with flannels, and a tie or cravat. Ladies are required to wear dresses or skirts with a hemline below the knee and will not be admitted wearing divided skirts, culottes or trousers of any kind.

Similarly, no one will be admitted to the Stewards' Enclosure wearing shorts or jeans. Whilst not a requirement, it is customary for ladies to wear hats.

The Princess Elizabeth Challenge Cup is the premier event for junior men's eights.

It was instituted in 1946, the year in which Her Royal Highness The Princess Elizabeth (now Her Majesty The Queen) visited the Regatta.

The PE (as it is usually abbreviated) is one of only a few races in the regatta which does not allow composite crews to be entered, and as such each race is a straight competition between one club and another.

As the most prestigious race of the schoolboy rowing year, the event attracts strong competition both from the UK and abroad.

In 2014, 38 crews entered, which was reduced to 32 by qualifying races at the start of the regatta.

Having beaten Radley College in the quarter-finals, and Hampton School in the semis with a time of 6'38", St Edward's School, with Sam rowing in the middle of the boat in seat five, faced Eton College in the final on Sunday 6th July.

In their semi-final, Eton College had successfully toppled the reigning champions of the previous three years, Abingdon School. So, it was clear that Eton were on top form.

The final saw St Edward's School lead with a blistering start, maintaining the lead at the barrier and Fawley stages, only to lose to Eton in the final stage, who won by 1 ¼ lengths in a time of 6'43".

Sam spent his early years in Vava'u, Kingdom of Tonga, rural Oxfordshire, Rome, New Delhi and Brussels. Since 2006, Sam has schooled in Oxford, first at the Dragon School and now at St Edward's School.

He first started rowing in 2006, aged 10, and has continued each year. Sam says, "One of the main differences between rowing and other sports (such as rugby) is that pain felt during the race is entirely brought on by the athlete themselves and not by a bone crunching tackle or by a knockout punch.

The amount of pain felt is completely within the control of the athlete, the harder you work the more intense the pain is but it lasts for less time as you will be making the boat go faster.

Much like many other sports, rowing requires a huge amount of commitment. Some say it is not just a hobby but a lifestyle and that often your world revolves around the sport."

Sam enjoys the freedom of outdoor exercise. He also likes the direct relationship between training effort and performance.

He trains approximately 12 times a week ranging from early morning 6km runs, to weight training, and skills practice in a boat on the river Thames.

Sam would like to represent Great Britain at the Junior World Rowing Championship in 2015 in Rio de Janeiro.

He looks forward to continuing his rowing at university from 2015.

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