Duncan Free (right) pictured with team-mate Drew Ginn after winning gold in the Men’s Pair at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games.
Duncan Free (right) pictured with team-mate Drew Ginn after winning gold in the Men’s Pair at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games. ROLAND WEIHRAUCH

Oarsome support for aquatic plans

OLYMPIC gold medal winner Duncan Free is adding his support to the creation of a new aquatic sports centre in Rockhampton.

The champion rower, who won gold in the men’s pairs in Beijing last year, will be a guest speaker at the official free-admission launch event for the proposed centre on Wednesday.

Chester Macdonald, chairman of the Fitzroy River Aquatic Centre, said the launch at Frenchville Sports Club would be a chance for all interested groups and individuals to learn about the project and have their say.

“It’s gathering momentum all the time,” Chester said.

“These are exciting times for those in the city who are involved in rowing and paddling sports, and those who would like to get involved.”

The project, which has the backing of Rockhampton Regional Council, is for a new building on the southern bank of the river that would be used by rowing groups, outriggers, dragon boaters and others. It would include a judging tower level with the finishing line of the existing two-kilometre rowing course and would be able to stage major national events.

Other groups to have expressed an interest so far include the SES, Girl Guides, CQUniversity and a number of schools.

“The project is moving along well. The council has asked architects to prepare draft submissions for federal funding and I’m confident we will be able to attract millions of dollars,” he said.

There has been an upsurge in interest in rowing and other river sports in the last year and there is currently a shortage of storage space for valuable equipment.

Wednesday’s event will also be addressed by Janelle Gamble, director of Dragons Abreast. The free launch is set for 6.30pm.



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