Raglan champion rower Claudia MacDonald is fully immersed in a grueling training schedule at Lake Karapiro, while her family and friends try to the raise the last few dollars to get her to the World Junior Championships in Brazil next month.
Claudia won the under-17 girl’s single sculling title in March at the New Zealand secondary school rowing championships, known as the Aon Maadi Cup, and had wins at the national club championships and North Island championships earlier this year.
The Fraser High School student, now 17, was then selected for the World Junior Champs, which start on August 5, and was costing her $6300 plus an extra $2200 for the eight-week training programme in Cambridge beforehand.
Family and friends were trying to raise some money to help get her to Rio de Janeiro, where she would be competing in the coxless fours event.
A ‘Grease’ fundraising event had been organised for July 25 at the Old School Arts School for the talented Claudia, who had only been rowing for two years.
Co-organiser Tish Taylor said an “action-packed” evening was planned including a sing-a-long, an auction, prizes for best dressed and dinner: “It’ll be a laugh anyway”.
Friends, family and strangers had also donated over $4000 to Claudia’s expenses through the fundraising website Give A Little, which her mother, Lyn MacDonald, said was “just amazing”, and friends had organized a raffle.
Lyn said Claudia had only been allowed home for two weekends during the eight-week training programme. For the final four weeks, there would be no home visits as the 23-strong New Zealand team concentrated on their rowing and tried to keep healthy.
The coaches were pleased with the team and Claudia was feeling good, with no time to feel nervous about the upcoming competition: “She’s all muscle and sinew”.
“They [the team] are beyond where their coach thought they’d be,” Lyn said. “But now they have to taper off a bit because they don’t want to hit their peak before they get there [to Rio]. It’s all worked out.”
She had been attending St Peter’s School in Cambridge during the training programme, and doing training before and after school, with only a rare day off.
The team was continuing with schoolwork over the school holidays, to make up for the time they would be missing school while at the World Junior Champs.
But Claudia was used to that, as she had always been training or rowing during school holidays since taking up the sport, which had been a costly exercise for her family in terms of petrol, training and competition costs.
“[But] We’re not a sporty family so when something like this [Claudia’s selection for Rio] happens it’s just mind-blowing. It’s totally out of our normal life,” Lyn said proudly.
Tickets to the Grease fundraising evening are available at Jet Collective. Doors open 7pm, July25. Cash bar.
Donations can also be made to Claudia on the Give A Little website at: