The West

Olympian helps PLC to first head-of-river win
Olympian helps PLC to first head-of-river win

A week after rowing in the final of the Olympic eight at Eton Dorney, Hannah Vermeersch was back at home celebrating with Presbyterian Ladies College on Saturday after their first-ever head-of-the-river victory in a boat named after her.

Vermeersch, 19, who graduated from PLC in 2009, was the youngest in the Australian team after being plucked out of age-group rowing to fill a seat in the eight alongside WA teammate Alex Hagan.

Their courageous fight to qualify for the Games before making it all the way through to the final earned them the nickname "the motley crew".

PLC restructured its rowing program five years ago after years of watching Methodist Ladies College and Perth College dominate the Independent Girls' Schools' Sports Association regatta.

The college had never won the prestigious event but destroyed the field to win by four lengths in 7min. 3.70sec. from MLC, Perth College, St Hilda's and Penrhos.

MLC were vying for their fourth straight victory.

Vermeersch, who moved from Esperance to complete high school, joins three-times world champion Jo Lutz, now one of the coaches, as a PLC rowing success story.

"I am so proud of the girls. This is the first year we have ever won," Vermeersch said.

"The school did so much for me while I was a student. I can only try and give back as much as I can after an amazing experience being able to row for Australia at the Olympics.

"It is very special to be recognised by having my name on the boat."

Vermeersch's sister Kira was part of the Year 9 crew that won their eights race.

Of the 30 races contested on Saturday, PLC won 12 and were runners-up in another seven.

This earned them the overall trophy with 1386 points from Perth College (1057), Penrhos (728), MLC (696), St Hilda's (557) and John XXIII (54).

The second eight was also won by PLC from Perth College.

The West Australian

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