TWO young rowers from the district are preparing to compete for Oxford against arch-rivals Cambridge.

Nick Ryan and Sarah Robinson, both former members of Hexham's Queen Elizabeth High School Rowing Club, will compete in the 46th Lightweight Boat Race.

The prestigious event will take place on the along the famous championship course on London's River Thames on Sunday, March 15, a fortnight before the main Boat Race, on Sunday, March 29.

Ryan was the district's sole representative last year, and was a key member of the winning crew in the men's event.

While he will reprise his role, in a bid to make it two wins out of two, one of his clubmates is preparing to make her debut.

Robinson will be part of the Oxford women's crew, which means the Hexham club will be represented in both lightweight races.

The club's rowing co-ordinator Pauline Higgins said: "The lightweight crews follow a similar gruelling training programme as the heavyweight rowers and selection for the racing crew is a huge achievement.

"This week, when the crew lists were announced, it was more great news for our club.

"We are very proud, and delighted for both Nick and Sarah, and everyone at the club wishes them all the best for their respective races, which we will be following with great interest."

In recent years, lightweight rowing has received greater prominence in national and international rowing circles.

It enables athletes of average stature to compete on a level playing field by placing limits on the maximum body weight of competitors.

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

But last year, for the first time, the lightweight contest was switched to the same championship course used for the main Boat Race.

A maths student, Ryan was selected for a second time after a successful 2019, during which he won a gold medal while representing Great Britain at the European University Games.

Robinson left Queen Elizabeth High School in 2012, and continued her successful rowing career at Oxford while studying for her Masters in biochemistry.

She won a gold medal while representing Britain at the 2014 European University Games and was a reserve for the 2014 Boat Race.

Last year, Robinson returned to Oxford's Wadham College to complete a Doctor of Philosophy in Systems Approaches to Biomedical Sciences, while remaining dedicated to her rowing.