From Weilmoringle to Switzerland


Emma Fessey. Photo: rowingaustralia.com.au

When’s she’s not on the water Emma Fessey is happy as a country girl, living and working on the land. Photo supplied

It’s a long way from Weilmoringle to the winner’s podium in Switzerland, but that’s where local rowing star Emma Fessey was last weekend when she received her gold medal as a member of the Australian Women’s Eight.

Emma grew up on Bullabelalie sheep and cattle station, 110 kilometres north of Brewarrina with parents Ed and Jill Fessey. Emma was a student of the local School of Distance Education before attending Loreto Normanhurst boarding school in Sydney.

Before she became a world champion rower, Emma was already setting high standards for herself off the water, as a participant in the 2021 Drought Resilience Leaders’ program.

It was while she was a boarder at Normanhurst that her talent with the oars first caught the attention of national selectors. On Sunday, that talent saw Emma and her teammates take out the gold medal at the Rowing World Cup in Lucerne.

Australia took six medals from the 12 crews racing across the Regatta, with Gold from the Women’s Eight and five Silver Medals in the Men’s Pair, Women’s Single, Men’s Eight, Men’s Four and Men’s Double.

The glamour of the international competition circuit couldn’t be further from the Culgoa River that runs through her home property.

For much of her younger years, Emma was more familiar with dry paddocks and drought than putting the oars in but has made up for it by now spending most of her waking hours on the water.

Her fellow Women’s Eight team members of Eleanor Price, Bronwyn Cox, Paige Barr, Jacqui Swick, Ella Bramwell, Olympians Giorgia Patten and Georgina Rowe and cox Talia Barnet-Hepples won high praise from their coach, who said they had conviction from the starting green light through to the line.

Performance Director Paul Thompson said the team executed their race plan perfectly.

“We came out and completed a really good start which has been a strength of ours, so our main focus was to nail the race rhythm from 750 to 1500m which we know we are capable of,” Paul said.

“It’s exactly what we did and allowed us to move up through the field and hold off Canada and Romania.

“A big motto of our Women’s Training group is, ‘any person, anytime, anywhere’, so it’s about adapting at any point and keeping positive spirits.”

Mum Jill said she was proud, not just of the gold medal win, but Emma’s continuing strength.

“It’s been a long time coming,” Jill said.

“She’s been very resilient with her training, and we are very proud of her strength to get back in the boat after being away from the sport with injury, and then to win a gold medal - it’s huge,” she said.

Emma said that the success of the crew was due to them being ‘fresh, flexible and willing to learn at every opportunity.’


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