Athlete of the Month – October 2014
Olympic Champion, World Champion, European Champion. At 29, Morten Joergensen has all of those titles to his name. As a leading figure in Denmark’s lightweight men’s four he is perpetrating the legend of his country’s “Golden Four”. This year, he and his crew beat the World Best Time that had also been set by Denmark 15 years ago. And Joergensen achieves all of this while working a 30-hour week and being a father. For all of these reasons, Joergensen has been chosen as World Rowing’s Athlete of the Month.
World Rowing: How did you first discover rowing?
Morten Joergensen: I played soccer before I started rowing. At a winter training I got injured, and my physiotherapist told me that I had to take a break for half a year. Then I tried rowing with my school class and here I am now. Not bad:-)
WR: Two Olympic medals, three World Championship medals.
MJ: They have all been extremely hard to win, so I can't say that there is one that was more difficult than the other. The first medal is always special, but I will say that I think all my medals are favourites, because it was with a new crew almost every time.
WR: You won Olympic gold before ever winning a World Championship medal. How did that affect your expectations for the future of your rowing career?
MJ: That hasn't affected me that much. I have and always will go for the win.
WR: At the 2008 Olympic Games you replaced Bo Helleberg who was forced to withdraw due to injury. How did you meet the challenge mentally and physically?
MJ: I thought it was part of the game, and was very happy to get the seat back. Bo had a sore back three months before the Olympics. It was on a Saturday morning that I got my chance to show my worth by standing in for Bo one day at training. Apparently I did so well that they later chose to have a trial period of two weeks with me in the boat, only one-and-a-half months before the Olympics. Mentally and physically I didn't really give it that much thought - I just tried to focus on doing the best I could.
WR: You raced and medalled with the great Eskild Ebbesen at two Olympic Games and at two World Rowing Championships. How would you say that impacted you as a person and as a rower?
MJ: Rowing with Eskild is a pleasure. I have never met an athlete like him; he is so dedicated to what he is doing. I have learned so very much through my years as a rower, especially from the culture and the dedicated people around the Golden Four.
WR: Since your international career first started 10 years ago you have been rowing with Kasper Winther, first in the LM4x, then in the LM8+ and finally in the LM2-. Since 2009 Winther has also become a steady member of the LM4- and you became partners again. How would you describe your long-lasting partner and partnership?
MJ: You can always count on Kasper when the light turns green. The year I remember the best with Kasper is the one in the LM2-, because we had to start from scratch and figure out on our own how to get the boat moving as fast as possible. Kasper holds a great part of the key to my success because we learned how to row together. We were unbeaten in the pair together before I became a part of the four.
WR: At the 2014 World Rowing Championships you and your crew overturned the previous World Best Time that had stood for 15 years.
MJ: We didn't really focus on setting a new World Best Time, our focus was to get a good race and going into the final as winners of the semifinal. I was the only one in the boat who during the race realised that we were getting close to setting a new World Best Time, since Kasper’s stroke box was out of function (Kasper has the command during the race). This meant we didn't sprint the last 150 meters. We are very happy that GB pushed so hard throughout the race, otherwise I don’t think that we would have set a new World Best Time.
WR: Are you and your teammates friends outside of rowing?
MJ: Yes, we are all friends, and we do things together besides rowing.
WR: How do you train during the cold winter months?
MJ: We spend as much time as possible on the lake, but otherwise we use rowing machines, mountain bikes and running as alternative training. We take part in many competitions during the winter months such as for instance in crossduathlon.
WR: What is the hardest training session that you have ever done?
MJ: There are many really hard training sessions, however I think that an hour as hard as possible is one of the hardest sessions. That or our 18.5 km at a stroke rate of 24 in Portugal which is also one of the toughest because we race each other in pairs.
WR: What is your typical day like at the moment?
MJ: A typical day for me starts at 6 AM when my son Oscar thinks that the night is over. At 7 AM I go off to work and am back home again at 3:30 PM. At 4:45 I head for training and am back at home again between 7 and 7:30 PM. Around 10 PM it's time for bed. That's the outline of my day with a 30-hour workweek besides my training.
WR: What do you do outside of rowing (hobbies/studies/work)?
MJ: I work 30 hours a week as a financial advisor at Nykredit. Besides this I like to spend my time hunting or fishing, although there usually isn't much time left for this.
WR: How do you see yourself in 10 years’ time?
MJ: Maybe I will still be rowing, but that depends on whether my body is fit for it and if the motivation is still there to keep going. One thing is for sure and that is that I will have a break from rowing after the 2016 Olympics in Rio.
For more on the Danish lightweight men's four - read this article: http://www.worldrowing.com/news/danish-national-icon-the-lightweight-men-four