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Evan Williams: Rowing champ still has one eye on rugby

Flagstaff Team

Rugby is still competing for attention for Evan Williams’ attention, even though the Takapuna Grammar School (TGS) student has won rowing gold twice this year at regional and national rowing regattas.

Golden combination… Evan Williams (left) and double-sculls partner Jacob Davey

Evan, 17, who recently won gold with Jacob Davey in the under-19 double-sculls and bronze in the under-20 single sculls at the National Club Championships, is putting off choosing between the sports.

“When I had an interview [with the Flagstaff] in year 11, I said I would make my decision in year 13, but I still haven’t,” he says.

Last year, Evan played in the school’s first XV, mainly as a prop. The decider this year will be whether he gets into a New Zealand rowing team, which would prevent him playing rugby in winter.

Otherwise, he doesn’t see a problem, as both sports involve cardiovascular training, so can be complementary.

Evan comes from a rugby family, with both parents having played in their younger days, and his sister Kate currently in the North Harbour women’s side, as well as playing for the Navy.

For now, Evan usually has 10 training sessions a week, four or five heading out about 5.30am from the school rowing base on Bayswater marina to the Chelsea sugar works, where the smell of burnt sugar is mouth-watering for a young rower burning a massive amount of fuel.

Eating enough to keep weight on is an ongoing challenge. Evan aims to eat six times a day over the summer rowing season.

TGS rowing has had a strong season, with the under-16 boys and under-15 girls winning medals at the North Island Club Championships.

The spectre of Covid-19 (coronavirus) could throw a spanner in the works for the national schools rowing event, the Maadi Cup. But hopes remain high that the regatta will go ahead in Twizel at the end of this month.  

While he has to take time off school for events, Evan says the PE department is supportive and helps him stay on top of school work.

Evan would like to study sports at AUT or Waikato University, but his main focus is to try to get into a national rowing team, which could potentially involve a gap year.

● The 28 February Flagstaff story on recent TGS rowing successes had Evan and Jacob taking gold in the under-17 double-sculls at the schools nationals instead of the under-19 event at the national club champs, and Jacob Hamlin instead of Jessica Hamlin in the intermediate coxed-quad sculls.

This article originally appeared in the 13 March 2020 edition of the Devonport Flagstaff.