BY MUNYARADZI MADZOKERE
ZIMBABWE’S twin rowers Patrick and Rory Plunket surprised many local sports followers after scooping the prestigious Team of the Year accolade ahead of the national Sevens rugby team and World-Cup bound netball team at the 2018 Annual National Sports Awards (ANSA) last month.
However, to those who have been following their progress, the national recognition was hardly a surprise given their remarkable rise on the international stage over the last two years.
The teenage identical twins had an amazing season last year winning gold at the South African Senior Rowing Championships in April and replicating the same performance at the Holland Beker Dutch National Rowing Championships in June.
In August, Patrick and Rory (18) participated for the first time at the Junior World Rowing Championships in the Czech Republic where they competed strongly against rowers a year or two older than themselves.
The Plunket brothers’ remarkable rise has been one of the successes on the local rowing scene with many tipping them to become future Olympians and the Rowing Association of Zimbabwe (RAZ) is naturally delighted.
“We are extremely delighted with the success of the Plunket twins, Patrick and Rory, especially after winning the Sports and Recreation Commission-organised ANSA Awards,” RAZ president Andrew Lorimer told The Sports Hub.
“They won a lot of medals at the international stage last year and have once again dominated the boys’ under-19 rowing competitions in South Africa this year.
“In fact, they have swept all accolades before them in South Africa and have now set their sights on representing Zimbabwe at the Junior World Rowing Championships in Tokyo, Japan, in August 2019,” Lorimer added.
The Plunket brothers cemented their growing reputation among the best junior male rowers in Africa by winning gold and dominating age-group events at the South African Schools Rowing Championships early last month.
More than 1 400 school rowers from over 40 schools and 10 rowing clubs across South Africa and Zimbabwe competed this year.
Out of 78 competitors, Patrick Plunket won gold and Rory Plunket won bronze in the boys’ under-19 single scull event before teaming up with two of their Hilton College team mates to win the boys’ under-19 quad scull events.
As expected, they won gold in the boys’ under-19 double scull event, only this times winning by a massive 21-second margin ahead of their nearest competitors.
“South Africa is currently the strongest rowing nation in Africa and in recent years has won medals in rowing at the Olympics and at the world stage. We are excited that Patrick and Rory are performing so well at rowing in a country where there is such strong competition in rowing,” he said.
Rory and Patrick, who both turned 18 last month, live in Chisipite, but are currently studying at the KwaZulu-Natal-based Hilton College, one of the most prestigious private boarding schools for boys in South Africa.
Their rise to the highest level of their sport is impressive, considering they only began rowing after moving to South Africa having initially focused on tennis and rugby when they were at St John’s College in Harare.
The twin brothers were both part of the Zimbabwe junior rugby side at the 2014 Coca-Cola Under-13 Craven Week held in Durban, South Africa.
However, the duo switched to rowing after they moved to Hilton College and began to excel in the sport right away.
The Plunket brothers possess the tall and lean physique suitable to rowing, while the special connection they have as twins makes them a perfect team.
Their immediate attention is on the Holland Beker Dutch National Rowing Championships.
“Patrick and Rory are currently training under their coach Ernie Steenkamp as they prepare to defend their gold medal at the Holland Beker Dutch National Rowing Championships in June. They will also represent Zimbabwe in Tokyo, Japan, two months later,” Lorimer said.