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Page last updated at 08:57 GMT, Thursday, 17 June 2010 09:57 UK
Youngest cox features at Henley Women's Regatta
Rory Keogh
10-year-old Rory Keogh is a cox at the Henley Women's Regatta

The youngest ever competitor will be taking part at Henley Women's Regatta.

Rory Keogh, 10, from Dublin will steer a boat worth £13,000, leading four athletes down a 1500 metre course in the event.

He is coxing the senior four of Áine Feeney, Jane Shackleton, Laura Byrne and Naomi Fearon.

In his native Ireland Rory is under the minimum weight to take part in races but the rules differ in the UK.

The regatta chairman Diane Graham explains how he is able to compete: "At just under 30 kg, we're having to bring extra dead weights to the events as he'll have to take around two thirds again of his weight into the boat to make it up to the minimum!"

"I'm happy to be there and I'm very excited about it," Rory told BBC Oxford.

When asked to explain his job he said: "You have to steer straight as long as possible.

"You only steer if you absolutely have to because if they put on the tiller then it's harder. It's like a running race when you're coming round the corner.

"And you have to encourage them loads."

Áine Feeney, Jane Shackleton, Laura Byrne and Naomi Fearon
(l-r) Áine Feeney, Jane Shackleton, Laura Byrne and Naomi Fearon

Rory got involved in rowing in September 2009 and hopes to row in the Olympics when he is older.

He says his current success is getting him a lot of attention at school.

"They're all asking me questions like 'Are you getting paid for Henley?'"

His father Dermot is the current captain of Commercial Rowing Club, Dublin.

"It's very unusual for them to start so early but he took to it like a duck to water," he told BBC Oxford.

"When he says something in a boat he gets a response. He turns heads all the time because he just has a command when he says something.

"I think he'll have to go into politics!"

The regatta will host over 1500 competitors and 40 overseas crews from the US, Australia and Europe.



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