Teenage rower overcomes family tragedy to aim for Ambition AXA Award, and he needs your vote

The son of Ray Eden, the former national 100-mile time trial champion killed by a neighbour earlier this year, has big ambitions of following his father’s other sporting passion, rowing – and you can help make his dream come true by voting for him to receive an Ambition Axa Award, worth up to £40,000 over the net four years. You’ll have to be quick though – voting closes in three days’ time.

Ray, aged 42, died in March from head injuries he received after trying to intervene in an argument between neighbour Luke Jolly and his girlfriend. Jolly pleaded guilty to manslaughter and was jailed in August for four years and nine months.

Originally from Liverpool, Ray discovered his passion for cycling when working as a bike courier in London during the 1980s, and went on to represent Great Britain on the road, winning a stage and the points jersey in Ireland’s Ras race. At the time of his death, he was working for Planet-X.

In a statement read out to the court at the time Jolly was sentenced, Ray’s son Finn said: “My dad was everything to me, my dad was brilliant.”

The youngster, a member of Doncaster Rowing Club as his father was, now has ambitions of representing Great Britain, as Ray did, but using oars rather than pedals to propel himself.

The teenager’s application summary on the Ambition Axa Awards website says: “Finn was inspired to row by his mother and late father, who had competed at Olympic level [Ray had initially been selected to represent Great Britain at Atlanta in 1996 but had to withdraw through injury – ed].

“Finn’s talent is for sculling, both individually and as part of a crew, and in the 18 months since he’s been training his coaches have recognised his natural ability and competition potential.

“That said, winning didn’t come automatically to Finn, and he has had to train long and hard to excel, often watching online coaching videos to help perfect his technique. It’s paid off, as Finn has now won at many different regattas and Head of the river Races.

“Personally, one of his greatest moments has been meeting Sir Steve Redgrave, a true rowing hero.

“Finn trains four times a week both on and off the water, and has ambitions to one day study Sport Science at Henley and be part of the GB Squad. In the immediate future, he is helping to raise money to buy his club a fine racing scull for promising junior rowers to train and race in.”

Finn’s application is supported by Lisa Wilkins, volunteer coach of Doncaster Schools Rowing Association, who described him as “a dedicated member” of the association and “an excellent ambassador for the club.”

She added that his “determination to succeed has helped him come to terms with family tragedy and given him a focus which has spurred him on,” and that “by listening and taking advice from coaches and experienced members of the club Finn is making great strides towards meeting [his] goals.

“We at the club are immensely proud of Finn because of his uncompromising pursuit of victory, his mature and well-developed personal skills and self-motivation to train regardless of weather or circumstances. Finn embodies every element of today’s youth, driven, informed and determined to succeed.”

You can vote for Finn by entering your email address in the box to the right of his nomination page on the Ambition Axa Awards website.

The awards seek to recognise “talented and ambitious 11 to 18 year olds” in the categories of sport, community, the arts, science, and enterprise.

Voting at this stage is to determine the finalists in each category, with their names announced on 1 December 2011.

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.


kaptnkrunch [57 posts] 6 years ago

4 training sessions a week? It's going to get a lot tougher buddy! GB level stuff is around 18 sessions a week. Good on you though.