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This article was published 11/10/2016 (1800 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Emma Gray is making waves in the world of rowing.
The 18-year-old St. Vital resident recently returned from the Rowing Canada Aviron (RAC) National Rowing Championships that were held in Burnaby, B.C., with a double gold medal haul and a stock that continues to rise. The championships took place between Sept. 22 and 25.
According to officials, Gray won gold in the women’s U23 single scull and women’s junior categories and silver in the women’s open single scull category.
And for the first time, Manitoba athletes won the RCA NRA Provincial Points Challenge Efficiency Award, which equates to the Manitoba Rowing Association having the highest percentage of athletes achieving world gold medal standards.
Gray, a member of Winnipeg Rowing Club who currently attends the University of Manitoba, also competed in the 2016 World Rowing Championships in Rotterdam in the Netherlands, which were held from Aug. 21 to 28.
What makes Gray’s achievements to date even more impressive is the fact she only started rowing in the spring of 2015.
"Competing in the world championships was a good learning experience, as I didn’t really know what to expect," said Gray, who is six-foot-one.
"The racing style is different internationally than at the national level and there is lots of racing strategy and lots more mind games, which teach you to be a bit more brutal. It was an interesting insight into the international scene."
Despite her drive to work hard and succeed in the sport she is passionate about, Gray also has a sense of perspective about the role rowing plays in her life.
"Racing shows a lot about weaknesses and strengths. For me, it’s about not getting too wrapped up in rowing, because it’s possible to well up and combust in a race. It’s about learning to relax in a race and about keeping things in perspective and the role rowing plays in your life," Gray said.
"Having said that, I love pushing myself. I definitely feel a sense of expectation from others and I never want to let them down, but you do what you can do in the moment.
Gray said her year-round coach, MRA’s head coach Antony Patterson, has been a big influence on her career so far.
"Antony motivates you and he’s very loyal. He has your best interests at heart and looks beyond your performance. He wants you to do well and he has his ways of lifting you up," Gray said.
"It’s a small group of rowers here, so it’s nice that we can invest in one-on-one coaching and training. He has a very flexible schedule and understands there are other things in life."
In terms of the future, Gray remains open-minded.
"Moving forward, I want to keep going and see where I end up, as I enjoy seeing what my body can do. When I was younger, I never considered myself an athlete, so I just want to keep working hard, enjoying it and seeing where it takes me. I never honestly thought I’d be beating U23s or senior national girls, so I’ve surprised myself," Gray said.
"Experience only comes in time with reps and races, so I accept there’s a long road ahead, but I’m looking forward to seeing where that road takes me."
The Lance community journalist
Simon Fuller is the community journalist for The Lance. Canstar’s senior reporter, he joined the team in June 2009 to write for The Sou’wester, which was then the new paper in the Canstar family.