2 Hamilton-based rowers to compete in world finals in Portugal: How they got there

Marc Oria, originally from Spain, has signed on to be coach of Great Miami Rowing. PROVIDED
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Marc Oria, originally from Spain, has signed on to be coach of Great Miami Rowing. PROVIDED

Two boats from the Hamilton-based Great Miami Rowing Center will compete in the World Rowing Beach Sprints finals in September in Portugal.

The two local rowers, Cassidy Norton and Christopher Bak, are part of the eight-crew U.S. team that will take part in the event in Oeiras, Portugal from Sept. 24-26. They qualified at a national team trials event held in Florida in June.

Norton will compete in the women’s single sculls event, and Bak will row in the men’s single sculls.

The Great Miami Rowing Center had the most entries in the national team trials, the first ever held, with seven competing there. Marc Oria, the center’s head coach, will be coaching for the national team as one of the top teachers of coastal rowing in the U.S.

Oria, who rowed for Catalunya and the Spanish National Team, was hired as the GMRC coach earlier this year. He later coached athletes on those teams, as well as finalists at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics. Most recently, he was head coach of the University of Cincinnati women’s varsity team. He is also a neuroscience researcher at at Cincinnati Children’s.

“We know we have significantly elevated our program with the addition of Marc this spring,” said Kristen Riekert, co-president of GMRC. “His enthusiasm is infectious. His expertise and love of this sport is apparent in everything he does and that is coming through loud and clear to our athletes because our program is growing quickly.”

Coastal rowing involves rowing on the ocean or larger bodies of water, where the conditions are much more unpredictable. Athletes must manage through rougher waters, as well as tides and currents to be competitive. For the beach sprints, competitors start with a boat on land and must push it into the water, hop into the boat, row 250 meters around a buoy and return to shore while navigating waves and currents. Coastal rowing is anticipated to be an Olympic sport by 2028, according to the GMRC.

“I am thrilled to be able to bring coastal rowing to the Midwest,” Oria said. “This is a huge accomplishment for Cassidy and Chris and for GMRC to have two National Team members competing in Portugal. We’re looking forward to the competition.”