Zara Lavery Awarded 2024 John Hall Rowing Scholarship

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By Mrinal Asija

Bachelor of Science student Zara Lavery has been named the recipient of the John Hall Rowing Scholarship for 2024.

One of the most talented young rowers in the country currently, Zara is a six-time Victorian state champion and has won the National Championships in the U19 and U23 levels in coxed four and coxed eight respectively over the last three years. Her domestic success has earned her call-ups to the junior Australian teams at these age-group levels. Last year, she was part of the Trans-Tasman Regatta winning U21 Australian side.

It has been a period of highs for Zara, as she has also been picked in the Australian team at the World University Championships, which are to be held in the Netherlands in July. The 20-year-old is excited for the opportunity to add to her experience of competing at the international level.

“Being chosen to represent Australia is always an honour and great recognition for hard work done over the past few years. I'll be racing in a four which is such a fun and fast boat to race and I'm sure the competition will be of a really high standard,” she said.

However, rowing is a highly demanding sport and managing to achieve this success while being a university student is no small feat. Zara realised early in her course that she would have to be more independent and self-driven towards both rowing and university studies. Now in her third year, she has come to enjoy this challenge. In fact, she is keen to study physiotherapy after completing her undergraduate program.

The John Hall Rowing Scholarship will help Zara in her pursuit of greater rowing success while she studies at the University.

“My rowing training takes up a substantial amount of time, and juggling study with that as well, I don't have a lot of time to work in between.

This scholarship will take an enormous weight off my shoulders by enabling me to focus on rowing and study without the financial stress that comes with the extensive domestic and international travel of rowing,” Zara said, expressing her excitement and gratitude on receiving the scholarship.

“Zara is an extremely worthy applicant” said Andrew Michelmore OAM, who was a member of scholarship selection panel and former Rowing World Champion. “The Scholarship will enable Zara to pursue her ambitions to train and perform at even higher levels without the pressure of having to also work to pay the associated expenses of her training and competition”, he continued.

The scholarship supports a University of Melbourne student-athlete who rows for the Melbourne University Boat Club (MUBC). It was established in honour and memory of John Hall that his son Richard created the John Hall Rowing Scholarship, in the hope that these funds may help keep young, talented rowers in the MUBC boats where they belong.

John Hall was a champion oarsman for MUBC between 1951 and 1953. It was soon after his Victorian King's Cup success with the MUBC crew that he had to give up rowing due to financial considerations. John’s rowing legacy was continued by his three children – Tony, Richard and Kate – all of whom rowed for MUBC and Victoria. Kate also went on to win a Commonwealth Games bronze for Australia.

Zara’s initiation into rowing was also inspired by her family as she got into the sport after seeing her brothers enjoy it. She stuck to the sport not just because she was good at it but also because of the friendships it brought her and the encouragement she received from her coaches and the community. Zara was invited to the Australian U23 development camps late last year and to the Australian U23 team trials in February. She now aims to make it to the national U23 team, following in the footsteps of last year’s John Hall Scholar Sara De Uray, and believes that the scholarship will make a big difference towards achieving her goals.