Athlete of the Month - July 2010
The rowing club of Igoumenitsa in Greece has a famous member: Alexandra Tsiavou is the 2009 Best Athlete for Greece. In that year she became a World Champion in the lightweight women’s double sculls and won the European Rowing Championships in the same class. This was on the back of making the 2008 Olympic final in the double and becoming the Under-23 Champion in the lightweight single for the second time the previous year. Tsiavou is good, very good, and her rowing career is only just beginning. World Rowing profiles Tsiavou as the 2010 season gets under way and finds out where the 24-year-old is heading.
World Rowing: How did you first got involved in rowing?
Alexandra Tsiavou: I have been rowing since I was 12. My coach, Mr Kitsatis, proposed the idea to my parents if I was interested in joining the rowing team that was just starting in Igoumenitsa.
WR: What did you know about rowing before you started?
AT: Actually nothing because it was the first rowing team established in Igoumenitsa and it was something new for me.
WR: Did you get to watch any rowing at the Olympics Games in Athens?
AT: Yes, I was there too. I watched all the finals of rowing and I was really touched when the first race finished. There was a strong feeling around because Greece also took part and we got the third position (in the lightweight men’s double) and the first medal at the Olympic Games for rowing.
WR: Did you ever imagine that you would get to the Olympic Games yourself?
AT: When I started to row I never thought about it! But my coach always tried to pass on this dream to me, so when the time came to try for the Olympics I started to imagine the possibility.
WR: What is your typical day like at the moment?
AT: It’s a very typical athletic day: training, resting, training, resting. Thank god it’s not always the same. I love different days.
WR: I understand you are a qualified school teacher. Do you currently teach?
AT: I don’t work as a teacher at the moment due to my heavy rowing schedule. I am a primary school teacher and I used to work for a while two years ago. My students knew about the rowing side of my life and they were very curious about rowing.
WR: Is there one thing that would get in the way of you continuing as an elite rower?
AT: I am sure there is, but so far it hasn’t come my way!
WR: During a tough race when your body wants to stop what keeps you going?
AT: This feeling is very familiar to me, because I get it during training too. In this very difficult moment during a race I think about all my long last training hours, so I keep on going.
WR: What do you like to do to unwind from rowing?
AT: I relax, spend time with my friends and family and also read books.
WR: What is one thing about you that most people would not know?
AT: I love speed and especially to ride a motorcycle and go on trips with my boyfriend.
WR: What kind of interest did you receive in Greece after you won the 2009 Athlete of the Year?
AT: Mainly interviews. Many people had the opportunity to know about me through this event.
WR: Where is your most favourite place to row?
AT: I prefer places with lots of nature around. Bled and Lucerne are my top choices.
WR: You will be racing in the single at the Lucerne Rowing World Cup, are there any plans for you to form a double?
AT: Until now the plans about me are as you know. After Lucerne a new period starts and maybe things will be different.
World Rowing: You have just raced at the third Rowing World Cup in Lucerne. Was it an important race for you this season?
Alexandra Tsiavou: Well, that regatta was a very important forming stage of preparation for the top goals of European Championship and World Rowing Championships as well.
WR: Racing in the lightweight single, how well do you know your competition? – Do you have a fair idea of their strengths and weaknesses in racing?
AT: I am pretty well experienced in lightweight single so, yes, I do have a fair idea. However I am a kind of “cautious” about the strengths and weaknesses of my opponents.
WR: Describe the race in the final against Marie-Louise Draeger (Tsiavou finished second)?
AT: Undoubtedly, it was a challenging race, although it wasn’t my greatest moment.
WR: Once racing had finished did you stay in Lucerne, or leave straight away?
AT: Lucerne is picturesque and one of my favourite places, so I stayed one more day to enjoy it with dear friends from Greece.
WR: How do you like racing finals on the Saturday evening?
AT: If it was in my hands I would never choose finals on the Saturday evening because it’s very tiring. On the other hand racing finals lack their importance as so few can possibly watch them especially when the media are absent.
WR: Did you take time off after Lucerne?
AT: I kept practicing in my home town so I was back in the boat the day after.
WR: What is the next regatta for you?
AT: Well, the next regatta for me is the European Championships in September.
WR: Has training changed for you since Lucerne?
AT: Until now nothing has changed, as the training programme continues to be the same.
WR: Where are you now?
AT: At the present I am training in Kastoria, a place in West Macedonia in Greece.