Peter Haining

Peter Haining was born in 1962 in Overton Hospital at Milton. From a young age he was a top class athlete, who could probably have succeeded in long distance running or the triathlon. For instance, while just 16 he unofficially entered a marathon in the west of Scotland (they did not accept entries from anyone under 18), and equally unofficially finished third. Hill races up Ben Lomond presented no problem to him and he toyed with becoming a triathlete.

The family lived in Rosshead, and Peter attended Levenvale Primary School and then Vale of Leven Academy. His father, Jackie's enthusiasm for rowing and the proximity of the Loch Lomond Rowing Club's clubhouse, made it inevitable that rowing would be the sport in which Peter would excel. He started as a cox-boy while still at primary school, and soon became an excellent young oarsman. Under Alex Thomson, the Rowing Master at the Academy and Jackie, the Academy crews soon developed a winning habit and that has stayed with Peter for the rest of his rowing career.

Peter's aspirations were to row at the very highest levels - the World Championships and the Olympics. The only entry to that level is only through the UK squad, which was then London and Nottingham centric. So while still in his teens, he set off for London, without a job, money or introductions. Fortunately he pitched up at London Rowing Club who quickly realised his potential and gave him considerable help and support to break into the national squad.

He was soon a member of the national lightweight squad based in Nottingham and representing Great Britain at international regattas. Ironically one of his earliest successes was to win a gold medal in a crew at the 1986 Commonwealth Games at Strathclyde Park - the only problem was that he was rowing for England, as was the whole Great Britain squad. Peter's first World Championship medal was in 1990 when he won a bronze in the Men's Lightweight 8 at Lake Barrington in Tasmania.

In 1991, he decided to change from rowing with a single blade to sculling with two blades, and made progress for the next two years as a sculler, including rowing in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics in a quadruple scull.

His approach was vindicated the following year, when Peter won the first of his lightweight single sculling championships at Roudnice in the Czech Republic. He did it in typically unorthodox fashion. When leading in the final, with about 250 metres to go, he hit a lane buoy and stopped rowing, letting the others pass him. Getting his act together again, he caught and passed the others. In total he won three lightweight world championships in succession - at Indianapolis in 1994 (when fellow Loch Lomond member Jim McNiven also became a World Champion in the Lightweight Eights) and in 1995 in Tampere in Finland.

Two lightweight events were introduced into the Olympics in 1996, one being the lightweight double scull, but not the single scull. This led to considerable frustration for Peter and the Great Britain rowing hierarchy, because try as they might, they couldn't find another sculler to match with Peter in the double scull. In the 1996 Atlanta Olympics he was forced to row in the Open single sculls where he was out-powered by bigger and heavier men. Indeed it is only in this year's Beijing Olympics that GB has at last found a successful lightweight double scull in the gold medal winning boat of Zac Purchase and Mark Hunter.

Peter continued to compete at the World Championships until 2002 in Seville, where he was part of an eight, which came a credible 5th in the final. Since he has retired from rowing, he has become a successful coach. He now lives in Oxfordshire, but he is a regular visitor to the Vale to see his mother in Rosshead and his many friends from the river and Loch.

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