Aramcon wins two medals at Riyadh rowing competition
The Saudi Rowing Federation recently participated in the first-ever indoor competition in Riyadh, where Aramcon Jessica Weirmier won first place in both the women’s 2,000 meter and the 500 meter events.
A group of dedicated Saudis have been working since March 2019 to bring the dream of Olympic prowess into reality. “Our goal is to be in the top five [most popular] sports in the Kingdom by 2030 and to achieve a medal at the 2032 Olympics,” said media and communication manager Abdulsalam Alshehri.
Alshehri said the SRF got off to a strong start by winning a bronze medal in the men’s event at the Asia Indoor Rowing Championships in March 2019. In October 2020, SRF participated in the Riyadh Preparatory Race, where Aramcon Jessica Weirmier of Dhahran won first place in both the women’s 2,000 meter and the 500 meter events.
“About a year ago I was searching ‘rowing — Middle East’ on the internet,” says Weirmier. “I came across the SRF website, signed up to get event updates emailed to me, and out of the blue, there in my inbox was the opportunity to compete in Riyadh on Oct. 2.”
- 2,000 M men's: 1st Emad Youssef 6:32.9; 2nd Maytham Alhajji 6:46.9;3rd Mousa Alolayan 6:49.4
- 500 M men's: 1st Emad Youssef 1:21.2; 2nd Maytham Alhajji 1:25.8; 3rd Mousa Alolayan 1:27.2
- 2,000 M women's: 1st Jessica Weirmier 7:44.1; 2nd Deema Alfaris 7:50.3; 3rd Malak Alhajri 8:16.3
500 M women's: 1st Jessica Weirmier 1:46.8; 2nd Deema Alfaris 1:48.3; 3rd Malak Alhajri 1:49.8
The indoor regatta was the culmination of a week-long intensive athlete camp held to identify and develop the Kingdom’s rowing potential, says Alshehri. Both the men’s and women’s camps were attended by 12 athletes, and it led to the race in Riyadh. The women’s event was held in the morning and was followed by the men’s event in the afternoon.
There was room for two additional racers at the preparatory race, and Weirmier was invited based on a qualifying time she submitted to event organizers.
“Rowing in Saudi Arabia is in its very early stages,” said Weirmier. “It was thrilling to be racing among the Kingdom’s future elite female athletes.”
The purpose of the athlete development camp was to promote rowing in the Kingdom, increase participant capacity, and identify talent to be recruited to the National Team, explains Alshehri. To that end, the SRF has hired the coaching talents of Dan Janes as technical director, program director Matthew Tarrant, and head coach Bill Barry.
Weirmier has competed in both on-water and indoor rowing events since the early 1990s, initially as a junior rower, and most recently as a master’s athlete. The prospect of rowing opportunities in Saudi Arabia is long overdue, she said. “There’s plenty of good water for developing a rowing program on the Arabian Gulf,” Weirmier said.
SRF plans to participate in the Saudi Rowing Indoor Championship on Dec. 9. This will be the first official tournament held under the umbrella of the SRF, said Alshehri. It is sponsored by HRH Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al-Faisal, Minister of Sports and Chairman of the Saudi Olympic Committee. The competition will be open to allow the participation of as many athletes as possible, he added.
The SRF has upcoming opportunities for Saudis interested in learning the sport. Athletes can sign up for email updates by visiting the website: www.saudirowing.sa.
The SRF is on Instagram/Twitter: @saudirowing. Interested participants can find more information by emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org.
*In the picture (Left to Right): Malak Alhajri (3rd place), Deema Alfaris (2nd place), and Jessica Weirmier (1st place).