When Konrad Wasielewski joined the Polish men’s quadruple sculls boat as a 20-year-old he was its youngest member. It was 2005 and from that point on, through to 2009 the crew won every major race that they entered including the Beijing Olympic Games.
After the crew finished sixth at the London Olympics three of its members retired. Konrad has remained and is part of Poland’s 2013 quad. With no intention of giving up the sport and always willing to try his best, Konrad is World Rowing’s July Athlete of the Month.
Athlete of the Month - July 2013
World Rowing: Tell me a bit about how you first got into rowing?
Konrad Wasielewski: My adventure with rowing started when I was 15 years old. My father took me to the first training and since that time I’ve been doing this sport.
WR: Did you do any other sports before rowing?
KW: Yes, before I started rowing I did a few other sports such as: swimming, aikido and basketball.
WR: Where are you at present?
KW: At the moment I’m on training camp and I’m also taking part in competitions which take place in Poland or abroad, so most of the time I’m on the road.
WR: What are your rowing plans for the month of July?
KW: I am planning to take a part in World Cup in Lucerne in the men’s quad and we will do our best to achieve the best results. After the World Cup I’m going on a training camp in Poland where I’ll be preparing for the World Rowing Championships in Korea.
WR: Are you a full time athlete?
KW: Yes, I have been one since I was 15 years old and I’m going to be one for the next few years.
WR: Back in 2005 you made the senior quad boat. How did selection work that put you in the top boat?
KW: In the main junior/senior competition in Poland I was third in the men’s single and after this success my coach, team and all the crew decided that I should join to the top crew. Apparently it was a good decision.
WR: The 2005 World Rowing Championships started a winning streak for your quad that lasted through to the Olympic Games and into 2009. When you first started out with this crew did you know there was something special about the crew?
KW: After the first start, when we won World Championships in Japan I felt that we could achieve our goals. The biggest dream of an athlete is to win an Olympic medal. We, as a crew, achieved that. While being a member of this crew I have had a chance to practice with the best competitors in Poland. It was a great honour to be a part of such an amazing crew.
WR: As the youngest member of this crew, what was your role in the boat?
KW: My role in the boat was the same as the others. We were really close and that’s why the boat was so fast. We did our best during training and thanks to that we gained such a high level and achieved so much.
WR: How did you handle the pressure of being the ‘favored’ crew to win?
KW: I didn’t feel any pressure or that I had to win. I did my best to train well and to concentrate on a competition. I wanted each race to go well.
WR: When do you think your country started to take notice of your crew?
KW: After winning a gold medal at the World Cup in Poznan in 2006 and achieving the World Best Time, the media started to talk and write about our crew. They called us the "dominators".
WR: Do you have a race that really sticks out in your mind as the best?
KW: I think that the final at the Beijing Olympics is the one that I remember the most. It was an absolutely unforgettable race.
WR: After winning at the 2008 Olympics did you always plan to continue rowing or did you think it was time to retire?
KW: No, I didn’t think about retiring. After winning at the Olympics my plans were connected with getting ready for the next World Championships, World Cups and, of course, the next Olympics.
WR: You have been racing internationally since 2002. What is the longest you’ve had a break from rowing in that time?
KW: No break, for most of the year I take part in training camps or I participate in foreign and national competitions.
WR: What do you like to do when you’re not rowing?
KW: When I’m not rowing I am still active. I like riding my bike and swimming. But most of all I love spending time with my beautiful girlfriend, Martha.
World Rowing: You’ve recently competed at the Lucerne World Cup: what did you think about the standard of racing in the quad?
Konrad Wasielewski: The standard of racing in the quad was very high at the Lucerne World Cup and at the World Cup in Eton Dorney. Our quad did their best to achieve the best results possible since it determined whether the boat will compete at the World Championships in Korea.
WR: Did you get any time off after Lucerne or was it straight back into training?
KW: After the competition in Lucerne I had only one and a half days off and then I went straight to a two week training camp. I’ll have some time off after the World Champs.
WR: Leading up to the World Rowing Championships will you be training in Poland or in different locations?
KW: At the moment I’m training in Poland (in the Polish mountains). I’ve been training really hard for last few days. The training camp will be over by the end of July.
WR: Where will you go to acclimatise for the rowing conditions in Korea?
KW: We are concentrating on training in Poland. Korea is still the future, so we won’t worry about it in advance.
WR: Your former quad was called ‘The Dominators’ by the Polish media. Do they have a name for your current quad?
KW: We’re a new quad and we don’t have any name, yet. I hope that we will live up to everyone’s high expectations and will get a good name. I wish that in the current quad we will have the same or even bigger achievements than ‘The Dominators’.
WR: With your current quad, is it strictly a rowing relationship with your team members, or are you friends outside of rowing?
KW: At the moment the good cooperation that undoubtedly shows in our quad has a chance to turn into closer friendships.
WR: What is your favorite training workout? – What is your least favorite?
KW: I like power training in the gym where I can build my muscles. I don’t like contious long distance training.
WR: What is your best 2km erg score?
KW: My best is 5:58.6 which I did in 2013.
WR: If you weren’t rowing what do you think you would be doing?
KW: If I wasn’t rowing I would definitely do some other sport. I love sport and I can’t imagine my life without it.