ONE of the district’s talented young rowers will represent Oxford University in the 2019 Lightweight Boat Race.

Nick Ryan (19) will be at the bow of the eight-man Blue Boat in the race against Cambridge on Saturday, March 23.

The contest for lightweight crews was traditionally part of the Henley Boat Races, from Phyllis Court to Temple Island along the famous ‘Henley Reach’ on London’s River Thames.

But this year, for the first time, the 45th lightweight contest will take place over full championship course, a fortnight prior to the main Boat Race, scheduled for Sunday, April 7.

Ryan had been a member of Hexham’s Queen Elizabeth High School Rowing Club since his early teenage years.

Last summer, the rower won gold at the National Championships in Nottingham, and in December, he was named young sportsman of the year at the Sport Tynedale Awards.

Ryan is currently in his first year at Oxford University, where he is studying maths.

QEHS Rowing Club’s Pauline Higgins said: “We received the news on Monday, and told the younger members of the club on Monday evening. They all said ‘wow’ and we are all absolutely delighted for Nick.

“We are very proud of him, but we’re not surprised by his achievements because he’s always had the talent, the attitude and the commitment required to succeed.

“He’s at Oxford now and has clearly demonstrated those qualities there.”

An all-round sportsman, Ryan is also a talented runner and swimmer, but Pauline, who runs the club alongside her husband Geoff, said his focus on rowing has been remarkable.

She added: “He was a very athletic lad when he came to us at the age of 13 or 14, and he obviously had potential to succeed as a rower.”

The average weight of a lightweight men’s crew member does not exceed 70kg, and no individual oarsman weighs more than 72.5kg.

At the National Championships in Nottingham last July, Ryan won the A-grade final at the event’s J18 1x category, at Home Pierrepont.

After an outstanding time trial, he won his semi-final, and went on to clinch gold after seeing off challenges from top quality opponents in the final.

Members of QEHS Rowing Club competed in the Northern Regional Trials Cambois Rowing Club last weekend.