Olympic dream - World Rowing



Olympic dream - World Rowing
Issue 6 – August 2008
Olympic dream
In this issue
Elisabeta Lipa WENT
The fresh and the famed 6
Young and getting faster
Orange fireworks in the making 10
Of luck and synchronicity
New breath for Gabriella
The wait is over
Olympic Games
Remaining in the groove
© Igor Meijer
a role model for
Asian rowing
The 2008 Beijing Olympic Games has
brought new momentum to the sport of
rowing in Asia. This was clearly evident
at the Olympic Qualification Regatta in
Shanghai at the end of April. A record
66 crews, representing 24 National
Federations raced at the event, with
fierce competition for 17 qualifying
places. The East Asian region again
proved the strongest, claiming 9 places,
but crews from Central Asia, South Asia,
South East Asia and the Middle East will
be represented in Beijing also.
Of particular note was the increase in
participation from the Middle East following
the Doha Asian Games and FISA’s subsequent
development initiatives in the region. The
qualification of a male and a female single
sculler from Iran was a major highlight. Iraq
will also be represented in the men’s double
after gaining a tripartite place.
Host nation China has long been the dominant
rowing power in the region. The Chinese
Rowing Federation is able to draw upon a
huge pool of athletes, under professional
training, in almost every major province. This
depth of talent can be seen at the National
Games, held every quadrennial in the year
following the Olympics. The challenge has
been to bring together the best of this talent,
and to provide them with the necessary inter­
national experience and technical expertise
to excel on the world stage. With the
Olympic Games taking place on home soil,
considerable resources have been applied to
achieving this goal. Under the leadership of
Asian Rowing Federation President Mr. Wei Di,
with the technical expertise of coach Igor
Grinko and an experienced team of Chinese
coaches, the results so far have been clear
to see. China has qualified 11 boats for the
Games and has already made a major impact
on the medal distribution at the 2008 Rowing
World Cup. Much is expected in Beijing.
It should not be forgotten however that
China also contributes significantly to the
overall development of rowing in the region.
With the support of the Asian Rowing
Federation, China is a willing and frequent
host of major events and training camps.
Chinese boat builders also provide support
and low-cost boat material to Asian teams.
Chinese coaches work in various parts of the
region, and top Chinese athletes serve as
role models for Asian rowing success. Asian
rowers must take up the challenge!
Chris Perry
FISA Development Consultant - Asia
Heroes of the past
– Elisabeta Lipa
Elisabeta Lipa, rowing’s most medalled
female Olympic athlete, was honoured
for her outstanding sporting career
with the 2008 Thomas Keller Medal,
the most distinguished award in the
sport of rowing.
© 2008 Getty Images/Alexander Hassenstein/Bongarts
Lipa’s rowing career spanned more than
20 years in which she competed in both
sweep rowing and sculling. Her first Olympic
gold medal was won in Los Angeles in 1984
in the women’s double at age 19. Twenty
years later, she left the Athens Olympics with
her fifth Olympic gold, a feat only equalled
in the men’s category by Sir Steven Redgrave
of Great Britain. Within those twenty years,
Lipa retired twice, rowed under two different
names (her maiden name Oleniuc and
married name Lipa), went from sculling to
sweep rowing, from single scull to double
scull to eight and to fours, quads and pairs,
making her unquestionably one of the most
successful and versatile rowers of all time.
Elisabeta Lipa of Romania
One of the biggest battles that Lipa had to
fight against her fellow Romanians was her
right to be in the single. And it was in that
event that she won the most memorable
of her Olympic Gold medals: the single
sculls in Barcelona in 1992. There she beat
Belgium’s Annelies Bredael and Canada’s
Silken Laumann by just over a second in a
memorable race. And Lipa has no doubt
that it was racing the single that gave her
the most pleasure: “It was the hardest but
the most fulfilling. There is no one to talk to.
You’re all alone, there is no one to help you.
Inside the crew, when you have a moment of
weakness, one of the teammates helps you
out. But in the single, if you’re down, you are
out of the race for good.”
But the Thomas Keller medal was also
awarded to Lipa for the impact she had on
her teammates. With three Olympic Golds in
the eight, that’s hardly surprising. Lipa herself
acknowledged that in 2004, at the age of 40,
rowing with women much younger than her
might have been an issue. But she explains:
“I never said ‘I’m Elisabeta Lipa and I rule here.’
Some of them addressed me as ‘Ma’am Lipa’.
If we are boat mates we cannot address one
another that way. I believe I earned >>
© Bongarts
Heroes of the past
Elisabeta Lipa, in the six seat,
wins her fifth Olympic gold
medal in Athens, Greece,
in 2004.
their sympathy and trust by my way of being.
They are my best friends.”
Asked which of her many victories is her
favourite, she replies with a warm smile and a
bit of nostalgia: “Each Olympic Games comes
with unique and unforgettable moments,
but Lucerne is where my best memories lie.
I raced there in the single six years in a row.
It is the most beautiful place. Winning there
is magical. Being in Lucerne is like being at
Her success found its source not only in
impeccable training and preparation, but
also in her positive outlook: “I was aware my
opponents were on a par with me, but I never
went to the start with a defeated attitude. I
went to the start to win.”
Lipa the athlete also took time to become a
mother, leaving the sport for a time to have
a son. Training and being a mother was not
always easy: “I had to stay away from home to
train. In Romania, we couldn’t go back home
every evening after training; sometimes we
could go home on the weekends. But my
family always supported me and pushed me
to be an elite sportswoman. They were always
close to me.”
Endlessly, her drive kept pressing her on.
Every time she reached a goal, she would set
a higher one. Every time she won, she had the
desire to keep on winning. After Athens, she
expected to come back in time for Beijing.
But first there was another task to tend to:
ask the Romanian government to build an
Olympic regatta course in her home country.
“In Romania, despite our rowing tradition,
despite the results we obtain in rowing, we
have no venue that meets FISA standards.”
Lipa dreams of seeing Romania welcome
European Championships, Rowing World
Cups and World Rowing Championships. But
although Beijing is just around the corner, her
dream has not yet become reality, and so she
will not compete.
The desire she has to share her love for the
sport with Romania and the international
community shows just how much more
rowing means to her than winning medals.
“I did not discover rowing. Rowing discovered
me when I was 16. A coach came to our school,
and described it like this: Rowing in extra light
boats, on a lake just for you, out in the sun. It
sounded like holidays. I went to try it out, liked
it immediately and stayed in it for 24 years.”
In addition to her career in the Romanian
Police force, Lipa is an appointed member
of FISA’s Athlete’s Commission and as
such is now giving back to international
rowing through her involvement with the
International Rowing Federation.
■ Martin Cross/Marion Gallimore/Débora Feutren
Top Rowers
The fresh and the famed –
Nathan Cohen and Rob Waddell
If you believe blending differences can
form a crew, then you will love New
Zealand’s newest combination, the
men’s double.
At the end of 2000, Cohen, then a high school
student, was just getting started in the sport
of rowing. Waddell had just retired from the
sport and was looking for new challenges.
In the stroke seat is Nathan Cohen. At 83kg
and 181cm tall, he is on the small side of
elite scullers. Behind him in bow is one of the
giants of rowing, both in terms of physique
and accomplishment: Rob Waddell. Waddell
weighs 100kg and is a full 19cm taller than
While Waddell moved on to other sports
– having a stint at top level rugby before
taking up the position of grinder for Team
New Zealand at the America’s Cup – Cohen
was making junior steps in the rowing world.
As Waddell went into his first America’s Cup
campaign in 2003, Cohen made the New
Zealand junior rowing team and finished
second in the single at the World Rowing
Junior Championships. Waddell, as part of
Team New Zealand, finished second at the
sailing regatta – or in America’s Cup terms, he
and his team lost the Cup.
Cohen, 22, started rowing in 1999. At that
time, Waddell, 33, had already been to
the Olympic Games and earned a World
Championship title. Cohen knew of Waddell,
who had become a household name in
New Zealand after winning gold at the 2000
Olympics, and could never have imagined
that in a few short years he would be rowing
with him.
The following year Cohen won silver again as
a junior. Two years later, at the World Rowing
Under 23 Championships, Cohen finished
second yet again. Waddell remained with the
© Igor Meijer
sailing team moving on to the next America’s
Cup campaign.
In 2007 Cohen made New Zealand’s senior
rowing team for the first time and was sent to
the World Rowing Championships to try and
qualify the double (with partner Matthew
Trott) for the Beijing Olympic Games. Their
sixth place finish meant they were successful.
Meanwhile 2007 meant another America’s
Cup competition for Waddell. His Team New
Zealand finished second again.
The Men's Double Sculls from
New Zealand with Rob Waddell
(b) and Nathan Cohen (s)
racing their heat at the 2008
Rowing World Cup in Lucerne,
Nathan Cohen (r) and Rob Waddell
(l) of New Zealand.
©2008 Getty Images/Michael Steele
Top Rowers
Later that year Waddell took his single off the
shelf where it had been sitting for seven years
to row on Lake Karapiro where Cohen was
also rowing. Waddell remained quiet about
his rowing intentions and started his rowing
comeback cautiously. “I had to be realistic
at the start of the season. I had to lose 20kg
(muscle he had developed for sailing) and
I hadn’t rowed for seven years. There were
so many things that could have stopped my
comeback from happening. I had an ambition
but I kept it to myself.” Waddell remained low
key, but beating reigning World Champion
in the single Mahe Drysdale at a small local
regatta got the rowing rumour mill started.
Waddell quickly dismisses his break from the
sport, “I never left the sport,” he says. “I wanted
to do Athens (2004 Olympics) but I was told it
was not good for my heart.”
His heart problem (atrial fibrillation) flared
up for the first time in years when he went
head to head against Drysdale in a race
to help decide who would be chosen as
New Zealand’s Olympic single sculler. Waddell
was barely able to finish the race. Drysdale
was selected to be the single sculler and
Waddell was given the option of going into
the double. Waddell’s patriotic nature helped
make his decision; he wanted to compete for
New Zealand at the Beijing Olympics.
Racing for the first time internationally after
an eight-year hiatus (at this year’s Lucerne
Rowing World Cup), Waddell says it was not
too much of a shock: “The summer racing
(in the single against Drysdale) was so
competitive that it brought me up to speed
pretty quickly.”
Spending the majority of his career in a single
required some adaptation for Waddell as he
stepped into the double. “It’s almost more
challenging,” says Waddell. “You have to fit in
with the other guy. You have to be perfectly
matched.” Waddell adds that the difference in
their height is not an issue. “The main thing
is that the blades go in and out of the water
Waddell remains “open-minded” about his
post-Beijing plans. “I’m actually sailing straight
after rowing. The rules have changed (in the
America’s Cup race) which means grinders
will be down to around 100kg. This means
I might be more suited for the new cut of
Chris Nilsson, the coach of Cohen
and Waddell, has the double training
alongside New Zealand’s men’s four for
their Olympic preparation. Nilsson has
only good things to say about Cohen
and Waddell. “Nathan is not overawed
by Rob, even though Rob was his hero.”
■ M.S.B.
Rowers of the future
Cedric Berrest and Julien Bahain belong
to one of the top boats of their nation.
The men’s quad is one of France’s
Olympic medal hopes. Both Cedric and
Julien joined the boat at age 19, fresh
out of junior international racing.
Cedric made it in time to race at his first
Olympics while Julien got in a year later,
in 2005. Since then, the crew has
evolved from a last-place finish at the
Games in Athens into a force to be
reckoned with in the men’s quad event.
Their transition from junior to senior was a
radical one, but it worked: “In France, we were
not given the option to compete at under-23
level. Either you are placed in the senior or in
the under-23 group. At junior level we were
already quite serious and trained hard, so we
were above our competition nationally,” they
explain. “At the end of our first year at senior
level we were already among France’s best
senior rowers, winning medals in the single
at national selection trials.”
In his first year in the quad, Julien found
himself rowing with Olympic champion
Adrien Hardy. “I was thrown into this crew
and found myself with someone I had seen
on television, someone I admired,” he says.
“Adrien was stronger than me, and yet we
were all going in the same direction - without
us he couldn’t get anywhere. Rowing with
an Olympic champion boosted my selfconfidence and made me what I am today.”
For Cedric, rowing with Adrien played a key
role in his skills development: “Adrien is very
rigorous in training. Every stroke is very, very
important. We had not been that conscious
of the importance of each stroke before.”
As a crew they began climbing the ladder,
finishing a credible 5th at the worlds in 2005
and grabbing silver at a World Cup in 2006,
but then they suddenly plummeted to 10th
place at the World Rowing Championships
later that year. “The results were coming; we
felt we could do it. But going from a place in
the A Final to finishing in the middle >>
© 2008 Getty Images/Michael Steele
and getting faster
Julien Bahain (r) and Cedric
Berrest (l)
Rowers of the future
© 2008 Getty Images/Michael Steele
the Munich World Rowing Championships
and their performance has been consistent
ever since.
The two crewmates have become friends
since rowing together at junior level in 2003.
“Cedric has always been my model. I’ve
always wanted to do what he did. He gave
me the desire to go further,” says Julien. “We
have quite a lot in common and do things
together outside of rowing. And yet when
we’re at the start at a selection trial, it’s war
time!” they say. “We know our friendship will
last long after we finish rowing. We know we
can depend on each other. It isn’t easy to go
from situations where we have to be perfectly
together and others where we’re competing
against each other. It’s a special relationship.”
Julien Bahain (s) and Cedric
Berrest (two seat) racing at
the 2008 Rowing World Cup in
Lucerne, Switzerland.
of a B Final doesn’t take that much. It can
happen very quickly. It only takes one or two
seconds in the semifinal,” explain Cedric and
Julien. “Our 10th place caused us to totally reevaluate everything: we changed coaches,
we changed boats and our way of rowing
a bit.”
That is when the French federation assigned
a female coach, Christine Gosse, to their boat.
“First we thought, ‘Oh my, what’s going to
happen now?’ but in fact we clicked almost
immediately,” they said. “It is somewhat
different, in many little ways. She sees things
differently. We analyse things a bit differently.
She’s a determined woman; we instantly
knew where she wanted to go. It’s not a
man-to-man dialogue, but the dialogue of
a strong-minded woman with men. She
pampers us a bit but can also shake us up
when we need it. We got into the mould and
we liked it.” One year later they won silver at
As for the future of their rowing career, both
would like it to last beyond Beijing until the
London Games in 2012. They like rowing too
much to stop just yet: “We fell into it when
we were young. When you do, you never
get out!” they exclaim. Between Beijing and
London they plan to finish their engineering
studies, which they lengthened by two years
in order to allow for more training time.
“We’ll still be young then – only 26 and 27 –
and that’s supposed to be the best years in
■ D.F.
Olympic Games
But to reach Beijing, a stop via Poznan, Poland,
was required to qualify for the Games. “It was
one of the important things we had to do. We
could not win an Olympic medal there, but
we could certainly lose it, so we were aware
of the stakes,” says Kirsten. The Dutch crew
grabbed one of the two last Olympic spots
up for grabs at the Final Olympic Qualification
Regatta, ahead of the USA.
It has been nearly four years since Athens.
After their Olympic bronze there, the duo
parted ways. Marit raced on to three World
Champion­ship gold medals in the lightweight
single while Kirsten had a baby. It was only a
few months ago, back in January, that the duo
got in a boat together again.
To assess how realistic their comeback was,
Marit and Kirsten sat down with Coach
Josy Verdonkschot to discuss the physical,
social and material prerequisites. Josy
explains the main points they covered: “We
asked ourselves: are we prepared to do it?
Will we enjoy it? Does the National Olympic
Committee believe in us? All the answers to
those questions were ‘Yes!’”
If they did not think they could reach their goal,
they would not have made all those efforts
to prepare for Beijing. “We are preparing
fireworks for Beijing. We will race so hard on
our slides that fire will come out,” they laugh.
■ D.F.
The Dutch
lightweight women’s
double sculls with
Kirsten Van Der Kolk (b) and
Marit Van Eupen (s).
Kirsten van der Kolk (l) and
Marit van Eupen (r) with Coach
Josy Verdonkschot.
With the Qualification Regatta behind them,
the lightweight crew will go “back to basics”
for about two weeks before going to South
Korea where the Netherlands’ multi-sport final
Olympic training camp will take place. The
climate in South Korea is similar to Beijing’s
and the time difference is only one hour.
The two Dutch athletes sparkle with confid­
ence and enthusiasm. “We are more than ever
aware of everything we have to do but also the
way we can do it to get the best out of it and
enjoy it,” says Marit. “We know how important
our experience is,” says Kirsten. “We know
what we can do. And I think that’s the most
important part – that we know ourselves.”
© World Rowing
Beijing will be Olympic Games number three for Marit van Eupen and Kirsten van der Kolk of the Netherlands.
They made the final in the lightweight double in Sydney and won bronze in Athens. This time they will be
aiming for gold, no less. If that were not the case, they would not be rowing in golden shoes. “Our golden
shoes remind us of our goal every stroke,” say the duo.
© Simon Lorenz
Orange fireworks in the making
Olympic Games
Of luck and synchronicity –
Goldsack and Hykel
Renee Hykel (b) and Jennifer
Goldsack (s) from the USA race
their morning heat at the 2008
Final Olympic Qualifcation
Regatta in Poznan, Poland.
Jennifer Goldsack and Renee Hykel started
their international rowing careers as rivals on
opposite sides of the Atlantic. With a bit of luck
to bring them together and some fast-found synergy, the duo is now the Beijing-bound U.S.A. lightweight crew after finishing
second at the Final Olympic Qualification Regatta in Poznan, Poland, in June.
The 2005 World Rowing
Championships was the first
time Goldsack and Hykel raced
against one another – Goldsack
for Great Britain, Hykel for the
United States.
© Peter Spurrier/Intersport-Images
said Goldsack with a
grudging laugh, refer­
ring to Hykel’s dominat­
ing performance to win
silver with then partner
Julie Nichols.
Hykel would not
line up against
again until a
measure of luck
up at the spring
trials. Goldsack
decided to try out for the 2007 USA team in
the lightweight single – being born to an
American mother grants her dual citizenship.
Hykel began the 2007 season with a cracked
rib and felt she wasn’t ready for the spring
double trials, so she thought she’d go for the
single. “I didn’t anticipate someone coming
from the other side of the pond, and I didn’t
think I would be challenged.” But once she
got over her anger about finishing second
behind her former British rival, she made
a critical observation: “She rows like me.
I watched her and I was thinking that we
would make a good double.”
The two then met up and became psyched
about their similar training philosophies. That
prompted Hykel to jump on a plane to train
with Goldsack in her native country.
Now, a year later, they’ve come through a
challenging selection process as the top USA
lightweight double, they have found a coach
(Cam Kiosoglous), and they showed they
can handle the pressure when their Olympic
dream was on the line with just two spots up
for grabs in Poznan.
“We both wanted to be in the Olympics but
this wasn’t the path we had anticipated,”
said Goldsack. “We have synergy and with
our similar training philosophy I think there is
a real sense of team. I’m just certain with
Renee that we’re committed to the same
process. We get along well. I’ve never enjoyed
a team boat until this year. I’ve had more fun
rowing. It’s just the right fit. The only thing
missing is the three years of racing the other
crews have.”
With the big task of qualifying out of the way,
both admitted they have eyes for an Olympic
medal. After Beijing, Goldsack will have her
eyes on a different event in January 2009 –
her wedding with 2004 Olympic Champion
in the U.S.A men’s eight, Daniel Beery. ■ L.L.
© World Rowing
Olympic Games
New breath for Gabriella
Gabriella Bascelli persevered and it paid off. 2007 was not a good year.
A serious car accident and missing out on Olympic qualification as a result
gave her doubts about whether or not to carry on rowing. But she did
and earned her ticket to Beijing at the last chance qualifying regatta in
Poznan, Poland, in June.
The South African born rower who races in
Italian colours was overjoyed and relieved to
have made it. Hugging friends, responding
to congratulatory messages on her mobile,
all the tension that had mounted prior to the
event had disappeared. The night before the
final qualification race was not restful: “I slept
for about two hours!” she exclaims. But now
preferring to celebrate in a club with her
mother, catching up on lost sleep would be
the lowest item on her list of priorities.
“The hardest thing for me was the mental
stress,” says Gabriella. Coming all the way
from South Africa to support her daughter,
Glenda Bascelli admits the experience was
also totally nerve-racking for her: “I called my
husband and told him I was too old to go
through this,” she says. “There was nothing I
could do.”
To manage the stress in the lead up to the
regatta, Gabriella tried not to think about it
too much. She spent time with her mother
and friends, watched comic films and talked
about other topics. “My coach and technical
director were very tactical by not putting too
much pressure on me,” she says. “They told
me I was the one who believed I could qualify
from the start, that I was the one who had
faith in me and that I must not stop believing.
Then they did whatever a good coach would
do to prepare an athlete for a race and I think
they did a very good job, because I qualified.”
And before her qualifying race, Gabriella’s
coach sang songs in Neapolitan to her: “He’s
a Neapolitan and I love Neapolitan songs!”
Now that she is Beijing-bound, Gabriella will
focus on training and studying after a fourday stay in London with her mother: “I need
to spend time with my family. Family comes
first,” she says. “I’ve worked hard until now
and I owe it to myself to take a couple of days
for us.” After the Games, in November, she will
take her final exams in political science. For
Gabriella, 2008 is indeed an eventful year.
Her Olympic dream is no different from what
any other athlete would dream of. But what
she thinks is important is to give her best and
be confident that at the end of her race she
did her best. “I think that’s the worst thing
for an athlete – finishing the Olympics and
knowing you could have done better and
given more. So as long as I give my best I’ll be
■ D.F.
Gabriella Bascelli and mother
© Igor Meijer
Olympic Games
The wait is over
The Irish lighweight men’s four
in training at the Final Olympic
Qualifiction Regatta in Poznan,
Let two seconds go by. It’s not much is it? Then wait nearly a year. Now that’s a long
time. Then sit in a hotel room waiting for the race of your career to begin. This is
the story of Ireland’s lightweight men’s four. Two seconds was all it took for them
to miss out on qualifying for the Beijing Olympics last year at the World Rowing
Championships. They had to wait until the Final Olympic Qualification Regatta in
June this year to have another go.
“The rowing was almost the easy part,” says
stroke Paul Griffin (2004 Olympian in the light­
weight men’s four). “It was dealing with the
other stuff, like waiting in your hotel bedroom.
Waiting around for the race to come.”
Sitting in the middle of the boat surrounded
by teammates Richard Archibald (2004
Olympian in the lightweight men’s four) and
Cathal Moynihan, Gearoid Towey has felt the
pressure before. He has already been through
two Olympic Games (2004 lightweight men’s
double and 2000 lightweight men’s four).
Towey describes the final qualification regatta
as the focus of their whole year.
Before the race their coach, John Holland,
kept his talk simple. “He told us just to believe
in our abilities, be confident and not to even
think about what the stakes were,” says Griffin.
“We have a race plan but we generally read
the race and adjust accordingly,” says Towey.
“We’ve done this a million times and don’t
really need anyone to tell us.”
Towey did not encourage any supporters to
come to the qualification regatta. “I’ve been
through this before and the atmosphere is not
great. When you’re under pressure and about to
race, everything your family or friends say will be
the wrong thing, no matter what they say.”
The four chose not to peak for the qualification
regatta and came into the race directly from
a six-week training camp. “We took a few
risks,” says Griffin. “We’ve been training like
we normally would have been for the World
Cup season.”
Talking to World Rowing’s Debora Feutren
just after qualifying, Towey and Griffin were
visibly relieved.
But Griffin admits, “While we didn’t peak,
psychologically we probably did, so we need
to take a break now.” And, adds Towey, “A break
where we don’t have to think about rowing.”
“I found it very hard to talk about Beijing
before I did this race,” says Towey. Griffin adds,
“It’s been similar for me. It’s hard to do this
qualifier, it’s the last chance. Everyone’s going
for it because it’s either the last race of their
career or the last race of the season.”
The four will continue their pre-Olympic
preparation with a warm-weather camp
focusing on speed training. But for Griffin,
Archibald, Towey and Moynihan the wait is
over. They are on their way to the Olympics.
■ M.S.B. / D.F.
Games for Melanie
It will be the first Olympic
king for ward to it.
and me so we are really loo
am anticipating the
Quality racing is what I
Melanie Kok and my
most! My double partner
e items”, everything else
unisuit are my “must-hav
immediate family
is just a “nice-to-have”. My
be making the big trek
(mom, dad & brother) will
will be many more
to Beijing! However, there
re in spirit,
supporters that will be the
Calgary Rowing
including: members of the
ends coast-toClub, my family and fri
plans to be
coast who already have big
my home town,
glued to the tube, and in
airing the race
one of the pubs that will be
ly, the amount
live for the local fans! R eal
ave behind us
of support that Mel and I h
er ourselves
is outstanding! We consid
very for tunate.
Lassi Karonen
(SWE, M1x)
Rowing in China will
be just great, this whole
be my
thing is just big. It will
first time at the Olympic
Af ter the races I’d like to
some other events in the
ck and
week. I wanna watch tra
field, beach volleyball an
have to
men’s handball. I don’t
th me.
take anything special wi
g is
The most important thin
the memory of my newb
y hear t.
son. He is always in m
© Simon Lorenz
Tracy Cameron
(CAN, LW2 x, stroke)
© Simon
Olympic Games
© 2007 Getty Images
Akiko Iwamoto ( JPN, L
The Olympic Games is
special because it’s every
four years. The last tw
o times I simply took pa
(14th in Sydney and
13th in Athens), but th
time I’d like to be more
competitive. It was very
tough missing out on
qualification in Munich
year by only 0.05 seco
nds, but we qualified at
Asian Qualification R
egat ta last April and ar
e in
a better position than in
previous years.
© Zofka
Olympic Games
This is my first time at the Olympics. First of all, the
experience of seeing an Olympic Games is big I think, but of
course, I’ve been training all my life so I’m not just going
there to be a tourist. I will try to do my best. We are not in a
medal position, but we’ll go for top six. I haven’t done
anything but train for this - I did full-time training this
year and took a year away from my university agricultural
studies. My girlfriend, my mom and dad, and my sister
will be there, so it will be a big family experience.
Michal Stawowski (PO
L , M8+, 2 seat)
Every rower who is goin
g to Beijing wants to ha
ve the best placing they
eights will be at the star
can. Eight men’s
t, so if we go to the fin
it will be great. I will ha
watch in Beijing. For go
ve my father come
od luck, I have my spec
ial underwear. I hope to
the other Polish athlete
watch some of
s – we have men’s and
women’s volleyball an
d men’s handball.
Mahe Drysdale (NZL, M1x)
from Athens.
nce. It’s going to be quite dif ferent
I’m looking for ward to the experie
nds will be coming - about 12 to
Most of my
will come. My
New Zealand rowers - about 80 people - plus all the parents of the
to go and get an idea of Beijing.
tour in Beijing last September was
( AU S
hinese ba
, unfor tu
in school
it but I am a bit
g up
I forgo
to catchin re will
re that th
rs and
again. I a stralian suppor te
e just
ich will b
be many
tourists i
great for
© Simon Lorenz
© 2008 Getty Images
Thomas Larsen (DEN, M2-, stroke)
© 2008 Getty Images
Olympic Games
Vasileios Polymeros
(GRE, LM2x, stroke)
4x, 3 seat)
Jakub Hanak (CZE, M
© Birke Oud - alakarte.de
ympics as I was in Athe
the regat ta course and th
I’m looking forward to
ion, plus the food in the
od in
good memories of the fo
is too
s in Athens but Beijing
Athens. My family wa
far and difficult for tra
© Simon
In Athens I was third with
another partner. Since 2006, we have made
this double with Dimitrios Mougios. In Eton we
were 9th, in Munich we were 2nd. We trained
very hard this year and hope to perform well in
Beijing. Because Dimitrios stopped rowing for
a couple of years (between 2001 and 2003) we
had to build a new boat from the start. I won’t
have any family in Beijing with me, except for
my wife who will be competing in the
lightweight women’s double.
ch as goo
believe in
s when I
I used to
ms or sp
. Now
luck char but not anymore
was youn in myself, my st
er been to
I just beli d work. I have nev g
am looki
and my
China be
ure, the p
for ward t is whole country
there an
ferent fro
which is
our wor d
Lai Bajrang
Takhar (IND, M1
T his is my dream
represent India at
Olympic Games.
It’s my first
Olympics and a
opportunity for m
e. I don’t
have any good lu
ck charms
– I only believe in
my own
capacity. I will n
ot have
family there, but
there will be
some Indian stude
studying in Chi
na coming
to watch us.
© 2008 Getty Images
Olympic Games
Daniel Parsons
(CAN, LM4-, strok
© Simon Lorenz
’s a
d to the racing. It
I’m looking forwar
with four years
fantastic regatta
ces are the most ex
climaxing. T he ra
, but as
ou just see one race
s, not
and see all the race
a coach you watch
l great. T he first th
just y
ith all the
is to be prepared w
for me as a coach
wellen. I plan to stay
informed and wel
I hope to cope with the hot and humid climate. Apart from that, I think the
competition and the logistics will be of high standard. It’s the pinnacle of the
Olympic cycle so everyone is building up. For me, it’s more important what
is leading up to it. It’s important how we manage our preparations from now
on. As a coach I prepare for the Games by having my athletes stay away
from injury and troubles. I’m there to advise and support my athletes to be the best
possible. We need to plan for the opposition. There are not a big number of crews,
but it’s a good standard of competition for the lightweights.
Mary Whipple
(U SA, W8+, coxsw
I eat a lot of Chinese
food but I think Chin
ese food
in the States is diff
erent. My family wi
be in
Beijing and my boyf
riend, Michael Calla
han. I
have two brothers, A
l and David and a tw
in sister,
Sarah, and her husb
and Mark. My mothe
r and
father have come to al
l of my internationa
l races
so they are pros at tr
aveling. In Athens m
said she overheard pe
ople commenting ho
w it was
strange that I was in
the stands and not wi
th my
team during racing
not knowing it was
sister Sarah in the st
ands, not me!
© 2008 Getty Images
Harald Jaehrling
(IRL , M4 -, Head
Adrian David (AUS, LW2x, Coach)
© 2007 AFP
I will be taking a
I can't go on
library with me.
hout a few
a rowing trip wit
year at the
good book s. Last
World R owing
d the
Championships an
I read
pre-worlds camp
eijing I
14 book s! After B
g all my
plan on resumin
"dangerous" hobb
g, downhill
mountain bikin
Remaining in the groove –
Dick Tonks
There is a certain air of mystery when it comes to New Zealand’s head coach Dick Tonks. His longest-standing charges, Caroline
and Georgina Evers-Swindell, can attest to that. Every morning of the eight years Tonks has been coaching them they have had
no idea what they would be doing that day.
He is a man of few words but when they
do come, people take note. A private man,
he shuns the limelight to the extent that
he chooses not to go to his own awards
ceremonies – and there have been many of
them – citing reasons like commitment to
the next day’s training session.
He is a man who talks about the stroke as
though it is simple, yet can acutely analyse
and find infinitesimally small ways to improve
it. He has a passion for rowing so deep that it
takes over his life 49 weeks of the year.
Rowing has been part of Tonks’ life for most
of his 50-plus years. At 21, he became one of
New Zealand’s youngest Olympic medallists
winning silver as stroke of the men’s four at
the 1972 Olympic Games. Rowers have been
following him ever since.
Before being hired in 2001 as head coach
for New Zealand, Tonks was essentially a
volunteer - an unpaid coach working a
nightshift job to allow his days to be free for
coaching. During this time Tonks coached
sculler Rob Waddell to an Olympic gold
medal. He brought Philippa Baker and Brenda
Lawson two World Champion titles.
So what keeps this man fresh and excited
about rowing? Tonks is a little bemused by
this question. “You do sport because you
enjoy it,” he says. “It’s not like going to work.
You don’t feel like that. It does have its ups
and downs but you do it because it’s fun.”
To keep his ideas fresh and moving
Tonks reads widely, especially delving
onto biographies from a whole range of
athletes. His latest read is on marathon
runner Lorraine Moller. “I read anything
like that, cricket, rugby… it gives me ideas,
philosophies. I pull (the ideas) into my
coaching, it becomes part of what I say.”
The seasons, Tonks says, revolve around
the four-year Olympic cycle. Already he
is notching up the number of Olympics
that he has been to. At the last two his
rowers became Olympic Champions. He
doesn’t underestimate the significance
of this. “Success or failure at the Olympics
stays with you for the rest of your life.”
© Igor Meijer
© Igor Meijer
Tonks doesn’t believe he has softened at all
over the years in terms of training intensity,
although he is in tune with scientific studies
about the necessity of rest and not overdoing
it. “I review what I’m doing during the season
and go with what’s worked in the past.”
“Every year is different. I can’t keep saying the
same thing the same way.”
Tonks is an advocate of stressing the
continuous movement, the flow of the
stroke. “You can’t concentrate on one part.
You’ve got the whole thing flowing on, the
stroke goes round and round and round. You
can improve the level of parts of the stroke
by breaking it down but then you build it
up again. Moving the blade and the boat
is the most important.” Tonks admits that
he does spend some time on the catch. “It
is extremely hard to do. If there is a perfect
catch and everything moves together, then
you can’t do anything wrong.”
When coaching two of the world’s top male
single scullers, Drysdale and Waddell. Tonks
says there is no difference in his approach.
“They are both highly motivated,” he says
Tonks alters the training to suit each
individual crew when coaching multiple
crews. “If you used the same process for
every crew, they wouldn’t do well. Training
can suit one crew but not another.” Tonks
uses his ability to accurately assess his
athletes without asking. “During a season I
get a feel for what we need to work on,” says
Tonks. “Really at this level it’s just a matter of
getting stronger and fitter. You don’t make
big changes.”
An overall body balance is important to
Tonks. “You don’t want to be too strong in
one area. That,” says Tonks, “is the danger of
weightlifting and exercising one big muscle.
You need to get a blend and balance of the
whole body in the boat. I don’t try to build
up one area.”
In the three weeks off a year what will Tonks
be doing? “I like to be at home. I like to
exercise.” Rowing perhaps? Tonks laughs. “I
haven’t rowed for a while. I do some cycling,
running and kayaking.”
Does he ever get to clear his mind of rowing?
“I don’t think a coach ever does. Once you are
in the groove you stay in the groove. You’re
focused on where you want to go. I find it hard
to go in and out. I stay focused on rowing.”
■ M.S.B.
World Rowing
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Mike Williams
Anita L. De Frantz
Executive Director
Matt Smith
FISA is the governing body of the sport of
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Olympic movement. Based in Lausanne, the Olympic capital,
FISA has 128 member federations worldwide, organises
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