Invercargill celebrates Cohen's gold
Fri, 03 Aug 2012 6:04p.m.
By Dave Goosselink
In Southland, they haven't had something to celebrate like this since the Stags won the Ranfurly Shield three years ago.
Olympic gold medallist Nathan Cohen took up the sport at a school that's a rowing powerhouse and the students of James Hargest College were out on the water themselves today as well.
The students had plenty of energy today despite staying up late to watch former student Cohen’s race. An inter-house rowing competition was the perfect way for the whole school to share in the celebrations.
Cohen was one of four Hargest alumni in action last night, along with Storm and Jade Uru, and Louise Ayling.
Principal Andy Wood says Cohen first took rowing simply for rugby fitness.
“He got into rowing, he got a bit of fitness, and the rest as they say is history.”
And the school's claiming a stake in Southland's first Olympic medal. Cohen's success an inspiration to the next generation of rowers. Year 12 student Guy Redpath is impressed by his achievement.
“I mean, even like a school way down in Invercargill, that sort of thing can happen, so it's pretty cool.”
Teacher and rowing coach Evan France says Cohen always impressed with his ability to go hard and remembers a race where he even gave Mahe Drysdale a run for his money.
“And when Nathan got to the finish he was virtually unconscious. And they worked on him in the boat for probably five to 10 minutes until they got him to the shore.”
Many of his friends and fellow athletes watched the Olympic final together at the Invercargill Rowing Club.
And the city is already planning a big ticker-tape parade, Invercargill mayor Tim Shadbolt says.
“We did it for Sting, we did it when the Stags won the Ranfurly Shield, we made a movie of Burt Munro. So we know how to celebrate success.”
And Southlanders are confident Cohen won't be the last local on the podium at these games.
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