A Newcastle College student has become the French National Rowing Champion, after spending time training and studying in the North East.

18-year-old Erine Clegg from Vichy in France studied English as a Foreign Language (EFL) at Newcastle College whilst living with her grandparents in Whitley Bay.

She trained regularly with the Tees Rowing Club while she was living in the region, and travelled back to France during the half-term break to compete in the French Championship where she won the junior mixed sprint category with her doubles partner (pictured above)

Speaking about why she chose to study at Newcastle College, Erine said: “Learning English at home in France is completely different to learning it in England. Every minute of every day here, I was practicing. I was a part of the Tees rowing team, so I had to speak and listen in English the whole time, so I put everything I learnt straight into practice.”

Erine puts some of her success down to training in the North East. She said: “The river here is completely different to the one I row on back home because of the current. You have to be so much more disciplined, so much stronger, and really focused, which I think has made a big difference to my technique.

“I started rowing when I was 11. I didn’t know the sport at all until we moved from Nice (where there is no rowing club) to Vichy, where they hold the French National Rowing Championships. I thought it looked cool, so when they came to my secondary school to run trials, I put myself forward and was selected.”

Erine is now back in France studying for a degree in tourism, with the goal of becoming cabin crew when she graduates.