Not many people become State Champion in a sport they’ve only just picked up, but that was certainly the case for local teenager Ezekiel Pratt.
The 14-year-old has only been rowing since April last year and, last month, was crowned the best in the state at the NSW Rowing Championships, held at Sydney International Regatta Centre.
It was only this time last year that the North St Marys resident dipped his toe into the sport via a rowing machine at his home.
“I took up rowing because my dad used to do it and it got me interested,” Ezekiel told the Weekender.
“I started on the rowing machine at home last year. I was on it for a couple of months before getting in touch with Nepean Rowing Club and signing up to their Learn to Row program.”
With rowing in his blood thanks to his dad Ben, Ezekiel took to the sport with relative ease. Being quite tall and strong for his age also helped him to get ahead of the pack.
Ezekiel trains on average eight hours a week, with four or five sessions on the water.
“I like rowing, I like going fast,” he said.
“Rowing lets me use my strength without damaging anything.”
Earlier this year, Ezekiel tried his luck at the Taree Regatta, winning a whopping six events. He also competed at the NSW Rowing Championships in Penrith last month, taking home gold in the U16 Men’s Single Scull.
“I was excited heading into the State Championships, I had no idea what to expect,” Ezekiel said.
While Ezekiel has started his rowing career with a bang, he knows there’s plenty of work to do if he wants to rise the ranks and truly make it in the sport.
“My plan is to do my very best,” he said.
“I’m not sure how far I’ll go, but my plan is to keep rowing and just enjoy myself.”
And would he recommend it to other local kids his age?
“I would recommend it. Rowing is lots of fun and I do like it,” Ezekiel said.
Nathan Taylor is the Weekender’s Deputy Editor and Senior Sports Writer. He also compiles the weekly Chatter on the Box TV column. Nathan is an award-winning journalist, who has worked at the Weekender for a decade.