HARROGATE’S Zoe Cruddos only picked up an oar for the first time in October.
It’s fair to say the former Ashville College pupil was a natural, so much so that selection for Team GB at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games is now a realistic goal for the 19-year-old.
The University of Bath student, Ashville’s former netball and swimming captain, has been fast-tracked into the GB World Class Start programme.
The university – a UK centre for Sports Excellence – is home to some of the nation’s best-known athletes, including Olympic gold medallist Amy Williams and 400m hurdle hopeful and Team GB skipper Dai Greene.
Cruddos, a business administration student, only tried rowing as an experiment at the back end of last year but Games selection is a realistic target after she was put through her paces during a series of tests to assess strength, stamina and conditioning.
She was also part of the Team Bath squad that won the British Universities and Colleges Sport rowing championships in the coxed four as well as bronze in the coxed eight, but Brazil 2016 is the ultimate goal.
“Getting to Rio is my dream and that would be amazing,” said Cruddos. “I always wanted to try rowing and did after being told I had the ideal attributes, namely height and broad shoulders developed through swimming.
“I just gave it a go and loved it!
“But I’m still focused on getting good grades at university and the opportunity I have to train everyday, twice a day, with a full-time coach means I can take full advantage of both my educational and sporting ambitions.”
Dan Harris, Bath Talent’s development coach, feels Cruddos is well on course to realise her Olympic ambitions.
“Zoe’s levels compare very favourably with the testing our Olympic rowing champions had at her age, which indicates she has exceptional ability,” he said.
“She has a special gift, which only three or four others in her area possess.”