Two former Portora Boat Club (now Enniskillen Royal Boat Club) rowers will be competing on the world stage next week when they represent Ireland at the World U23 Championships.

Ryan Ballantine and Ross Corrigan will travel to Sarasota, Florida with the Ireland team for the event and both are hopeful of strong performances.

Ryan has already medalled at this level having won silver last year in the Men’s Lightweight 4x and he is aiming for a return to the podium again this time around.

“The hope would be to medal but you never know so we will just got there and do our best and if we get a medal great and if we get to the A Final and we don’t medal then we can say we tried our best,” he commented.

Ballantine is one of two who return in the boat from last year and he feels that they are a strong crew.

“I’ve the experience from last year and one of the other guys who was in same boat is in it again this year. The quality is there so hopefully we can do it on the day,” he added.

Preparations for the championships have been intense for the squad.

“We have all the work done, we have been training four or five hours a day, you don’t really have a social life. You get up at 6.50am every morning and you train then go back at 12 o’clock and sleep for two hours and then you are back out to the rowing centre and you train for another two or three hours,” explains Ryan, who has had a tough time with injury this year.

“I was injured for three or four months so I was just spinning for three or four hours a day on a bike. I had three or four physios looking at me as I didn’t know what was wrong. I was just pushing the boundaries too much and hurt my back badly but I got back into the swing of things and went to the British University Rowing Championships and I got three golds and a bronze there after about three weeks of training so I knew I was in good shape,” he added.

Ryan, who graduated from Newcastle University in Accounting and Finance has now been accepted on to Queens University’s Elite Athlete Programme and he admits that will make life a bit easier.

“I will be based in Ireland and I’m a Sport Ireland Athlete now and they will give me a bit of funding to help me. It just means I can train with the squad once a month and get to camps which was quite hard when I was in England,” he said.

So, who does he feel are going to be the main threats when the action gets underway next week?

“Italy and America are likely to be big contenders as they both medalled last year. You never know though who will turn up and who is going to be quick, that’s the beauty of it,” said Ryan.

For Ross Corrigan, this will be his first World Championships. He has been selected to represent Ireland in the Men’s U23 4+ alongside James Quinlan (Castleconnell), Daire Lynch (Clonmel), Brion O’ Rourke (NUIG) and Cox Eoin Finnegan (St Josephs).

And he is relishing the challenge.

“I’m very excited for it. It is my first time at the Worlds, I have been to the Junior Europeans and I have also been to two other European based regattas for Ireland at Junior level but this will be another step up,” he stated.

He believes that preparations for the championships have gone well.

“This is a new crew, I never rowed with any of these boys before but I feel like I am progressing and developing as an athlete and it is another step forward.

“It has been intense but it has been good. It has been an eye opening experience at Elite level endurance sport.”

This may be a first World Championships for Ross but he is targeting a strong performance with the aim of reaching the A Final and beyond.

“It is my first Worlds so it will be just about taking it a day at a time. It is in Florida so it will be a lot hotter and a lot more humid but we will go out and aim for the best possible result and hopefully that means direct to the A Final and if we can get there then go for a medal,” he said.

There will be a return to sweep rowing for Corrigan at the championships, something he has been well schooled in.

“I learnt my sweep rowing at Portora. I was sculling for two years at Queens but now I’m sweeping again so I’m back to my roots almost,” he said.

20 year old Ross, who has just finished his second year studying Chemical Engineering at Queens University, is hoping that this will only be the start of his time competing at World level with the ultimate goal being the dream of all rowers, the Olympic Games.

“Currently my five year goal would be the Olympics in 2024 but in the build up to that I have many goals along the way in order for the Olympics to pan out,” commented Ross.