National team dipping oars into Fitzroy River

By AARON KELLY

TOWERING Brisbane rower Sam Conrad is just one member of the Australian rowing squad looking forward to Rockhampton's perfect training base.

Conrad, 21, joined the national team in Rockhampton yesterday in preparation for this month's world championships in Gifu, Japan.

For the first time, the 50strong Australian contingent will spend 11 days training on the Fitzroy River ? another boost for Rockhampton's sporting community following the Australian cycling team's appearance last month.

Conrad, who at 204cm tall looks more at home on a basketball court, will join Brisbane rower Hardy Cubasch in the world men's coxed pairs medal hunt starting on August 28.

The national champions, who came third in this year's Kings Cup, arrive in Rockhampton after a training stint in Canberra where temperatures crept as low as -7 degrees centigrade on the water.

"We'll welcome the warmer conditions that's for sure,'' Conrad said.

While Conrad fills the heavweight position in the Australian squad, Brisbane's Michael McBryde will lead the lightweight men's four crew.

The 23-year-old joins Tasmania's Tom Gibson, Victoria's Tim Smith and Western Australian Todd Skipworth in the boat that has won silver at the last two Olympics.

The Australian rowers begin training this morning before they hit the water in tomorrow's Grammarians Rowing regional regatta.



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