Peninsula rowers bring home gold

The summer Olympic Games are over but peninsula athletes are bringing home gold anyway.

John Halberg of Port Angeles and Mari Friend of Port Townsend competed and won at the Northwest Indoor Rowing Championships in Seattle on Jan. 31.

Friend, a member of the Rat Island Rowing and Sculling Club in Port Townsend, rowed to first place in the women's 1,000-meter, age 60-69 competition. Her winning time was 4:19.7.

Halberg, of the Olympic Peninsula Rowing Association, won his gold medal in the men's 2,000-meter age 70-79 event with a time of 8:14.3.

The event was held at Seattle University's Connelly Center and drew a crowd of more than 300 rowing enthusiasts, Halberg said.

Competitors included Bryan Volpenhein, the stroke of the USA eight-oared crew that brought home the bronze medal from the Olympics in Beijing last summer, and other athletes who ranged in age from 14-year-old novices to 79-year-old veterans.

Halberg also brought back 20 ergometers (rowing machines) to expand the indoor rowing capacity at Sequim Middle School, the Clallam County Family YMCA and the Port Angeles Senior Center. The Olympic Peninsula Rowing Association now has placed 48 indoor rowers available for physical education teachers in Sequim, Port Angeles, Forks and Joyce, and at the Clallam County Family YMCA, Sequim Boys & Girls Club and the Port Angeles Senior Center.

Halberg's association also has two eight-oared boats, two single sculls and a double scull at a boathouse on Ediz Hook. On-water rowing instruction begins this April after permits are approved and construction of a ramp is completed.

Olympic Peninsula Indoor Rowing Championships were held last June at the YMCA for kindergarten through 12-grade student-athletes and as part of the Port Angeles Senior Games in September.

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