Patrick Keane was named the junior athlete of the year by Rowing Canada Aviron at a gala in Ottawa last month.

Local rower named junior athlete of the year

At the young age of 18, Victoria athlete Patrick Keane is already rowing his way to success.

At the young age of 18, Victoria athlete Patrick Keane is already rowing his way to success.

The University of Victoria student was named the junior athlete of the year by Rowing Canada Aviron at the 35th annual gala that honoured athletes for leadership and performance in Ottawa last month.

Keane was the only rower from B.C. to receive an award.

“I was surprised. I was truly honoured just because I knew there were a lot of other junior recipients out there,” said the lightweight rower. “To be identified as the top, I was really honoured.”

Keane’s love for the sport began in Grade 8. At the time, he was trying his hand at a number of other sports including soccer and track and field. He eventually took up rowing after a friend encouraged him to join.

Shortly after, Keane joined the Victoria Rowing Club, he competed in high school nationals where he captured first place in the senior men’s lightweight single. In the same year, he also won the men’s single and took home second place in the senior men’s lightweight single at the World Juniors.

“I really enjoy the amount of work that you put in is the result you’ll get. It’s a very honest sport and I really admire that,” he said, adding rowing has had a positive influence in his life. “It’s kept me busy and kept me out of trouble.”

Now, Keane has taken the next step to professional rowing and is competing at the collegiate level in the men’s program with UVic.

His dedication to the sport (they practice twice a day for two hours) has paid off.

Keane said he’s achieved a number of personal bests, has increased his boat speed immensely, and improved his overall strength, flexibility and conditioning.

Now, he is setting his sights higher.

This year, Keane hopes to make the national team, which would see him move to London, Ont. to train with the U23 lightweight men’s team and later compete at the U23 World Championships.

Mike Walker, president of Rowing Canada, said Keane is quickly rising in the rowing ranks.

“We are incredibly proud of the performance of our Canadian rowers this year, both on and off the water,” he said. “The sport of rowing has a bright future with the likes of Patrick . . . coming up through the ranks.”