Tuesday, April 3, 2012
Over the weekend, Rowing Australia announced their 2012 national squad in the lead up to the 2012 Olympics and Paralympics in London. Australia has earned qualification for ten boats at the Games but have the opportunity to add three additional boats at the Final Olympic Qualification Regatta in Lucerne, Switzerland in late May.
One boat attempting to earn qualification at Lucerne is the women’s coxed-eight, who had a time at the Sydney Regatta of 2000m time of six minutes 10.03 seconds, about 96% as fast as the predicted time of the gold medal time at the 2012 Summer Olympics. Selection for a team is considered a major boon for women’s rowing as Australia had not been competing internationally in the event after a disappointing performance at the 2008 Games in Beijing, where Australia finished well out of medal range in last, and has yet to live down the “Lay Down Sally” situation at the 2004 Games. Ten rowers, Phoebe Stanley, Hannah Vermeersch, Alexandra Hagan, Sally Kehoe, Tess Gerrand, Renee Chatterton, Emma McCarthy, Sarah Cook, Amy Clay and Robyn Selby-Smith, were named with only eight spots available. The women’s coxed-eight team will spend the next three weeks training before cuts will be made for the Qualifiers.
The men’s lightweight double scull will be competing for Olympic qualification in Switzerland, with Tom Gibson of Tasmania and Rod Chisholm of New South Wales needing a top two finish to make the Games. Queensland Jared Bidwell in the men’s heavyweight single scull is the third boat trying to qualify for London at the Switzerland event, needing a top-three finish to qualify.
The men’s coxless pair boat also faces competition for which rowers will be going to the Games, with five rowers having been named to fill the two spots. These rowers include Brodie Buckland, James Marburg, Fergus Pragnell, Duncan Free and Tom Larkins. The 2008 Olympic pairs gold medalist Free’s selection comes after a ten-month period where he suffered a rib-cartilage injury and broken leg that resulted in missing selection in the four man scull event. Other rows competing for one of these two spots have impressive resumes: Buckland has previously represented the United States in rowing and Marburg won a silver medal in rowing at the 2008 Games.
Toby Lister, who qualified in the men’s coxed eight boat as the coxswain, is ready for the Games in more ways than one. He became the boat leader in 2008, following the retirement of Marty Rabjohns after the Olympics. He is renowned amongst other rowers for his willingness and ability to play mind games with competitors.
Last Thursday, the uniforms for Australia’s Olympic team were revealed, including the uniform for rowing. It has been custom designed by Adidas to mirror muscle movement.
A new director was named at the Australian Institute of Sport on Sunday. New director Matthew Favier, who comes from the United Kingdom, has the ability to determine funding for high performance sport, and is scene as a potential positive for rowing as he could increase funding to the sport because it provides multiple Olympic medal potential for one sport.
The national team will have a Sydney training camp from May 8 to 12, before departing for Switzerland on May 15th.