Suncoast residents take home the gold in U.S. Rowing Championships

Elliot Vasquez takes home the gold despite the injury that left him partially paralyzed
Elliot Vasquez takes home the gold despite the injury that left him partially paralyzed(WWSB)
Published: Aug. 14, 2022 at 3:53 PM EDT
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SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - Nathan Benderson Park hosted the 2022 U.S. Rowing Masters National Championships concluded over the weekend with local rowers taking home more than 40 medals.

According to Sarasota County Rowing Club, 98 teams from across North America competed in over 200 races in the four-day event. The local club, under the direction of head coach Dragos Alexandru, brought home 12 gold medals, 16 silver and 13 bronze medals.

The team also entered three boats in the Parent-Child Doubles Event and brought home a gold, silver, and bronze with a grandparent-grandchild team. A member woke up on her 60th birthday and won gold in her single, and another member won bronze on his birthday. The 2022 SCRC Nationals Race team included 4 coxswains and over 40 rowers ranging in age from to 41 to 79.

One Suncoast resident overcame tragic circumstances to win gold.

In 2013, Elliot Vasquez suffered a spinal cord injury after a car crash. The injury left him paralyzed from the T5 and T6 region down. Vasquez has a background in hand cycling, but later transferred those skills towards rowing after his recovery.

“It feels amazing out there,” Vasquez said after the race. “Once I got into this sport it was a leisure activity for me. It was just a casual, good time in the water, and then I figured, let’s find out how we can be as efficient as possible here on the water. That’s when I got competitive with the sport.”

The championships began on Aug. 11 with nearly 100 rowing clubs from across the nation in town to compete. Vasquez is a member of the New Crew SRQ Collegiate Rowing Club and won gold in his event.

Vasquez aims to create an adaptive sports community in Sarasota and Manatee counties to give everyone the resources they need to excel.

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