This week Graham Clifford was invited to speak at a special webinar for World Rowing, the sport’s international governing body, on the topic of how best to work with refugees who may wish to take up rowing across the world.
We owe a great deal of gratitude to Claire Lambe, Olympian, the Women in Sport lead with Rowing Ireland and of course a Sanctuary Runner, for this opportunity to reach a wider audience of decision makers in world sport.
While rowing, as a sport, is still in its infancy in many poorer countries across the world there is no reason why refugees, or others seeking international protection, couldn’t be introduced to the sport in countries like Ireland.
Also addressing the webinar was Bob Ramsak who is head of sustainability at World Athletics and one of the key coordinators of the Athlete Refugee Team (which includes some of those now in Tokyo on the Olympic Refugee Team).
Graham Clifford said: “This really was a super opportunity and delegates were genuinely impressed and intrigued by the success of the Sanctuary Runners here in Ireland. Our energy, our ethos, our drive. A huge thanks to Claire Lambe for organising this. Over the last couple of years we’ve frequently been approached by other sporting codes to see if the Sanctuary Runners’ model could be adapted. I feel that rowing is one of those sports which really could make a wonderful societal impact in this area. Rowing clubs across Ireland are hubs of the community, members span the generations and the act of being outdoors and on the water is good for the mind and the body. Should the opportunity arise we’d be delighted to work with the rowing community in Ireland to help in this area into the years ahead.”
The Sanctuary Runners have always received amazing support from our most high profile rowing stars in Ireland – including Sanita Puspure, Paul and Gary O’Donovan, Claire Lambe and, the wonderful Women’s Four Olympic Team of Emily Hegarty, Fiona Murtagh, Aifric Keogh and Eimear Lambe.