Athlete of the Month – October 2016
In August at the Rio Olympic rowing regatta course, Lisa Schmidla became an Olympic Champion. It was the first Olympics for the 25-year-old who has worked her way up to being a regular member of Germany’s very successful women’s quadruple sculls over the last two years. Schmidla worked her way into the German women’s elite sculling squad after starting out as a junior representative in the women’s eight. The crew won bronze and Schmidla went on to becoming her country’s junior single sculler the following year. This brought Schmidla a World Championship title. In 2010 Schmidla moved to the under-23 team and again became a World Champion, this time in the women’s double sculls.
In 2011, again on the under-23 team, Schmidla took gold in the women’s quadruple sculls. Her future direction appeared to now be written and in 2012 she raced with the German senior squad at the World Rowing Cup in the women’s quad. World Rowing is honoured to share with you more about Lisa Schmidla.
World Rowing: Tell us a bit about your background in rowing. How did you get into the sport?
Lisa Schmidla: I started rowing at 12 years in school. My teacher saw my talent and took me to the rowing club in my hometown. Since that day, the Crefelder Rowing Club has become my home club.
WR: What made you choose rowing over other sports?
LS: I like to train outside and to feel nature. I love to push my whole body to the maximum. Every athlete needs a very good feeling for the boat-speed and I love to work on this feeling every day. This sport is so versatile. For me, it's like my destiny.
WR: Was there a turning point when you decided to continue in rowing and take it to the elite level?
LS: It was just like pushing the limits every year. Nearly every year since 2008 I have got a medal at the junior/under 23 and senior World Championships. And so, I never stopped rowing.
WR: When did you realise that rowing at the Olympics may be possible?
LS: My turning point was the Olympic Games in London. I was a spare rower for this event and after the great finals there I wanted to be in the quad.
WR: You have been a regular in your country’s women’s quadruple sculls over the last couple of years. What is the competition like to get a seat in this boat?
LS: Everyone who wants to be on the national team has to compete at the National Championships in the single. There you have to get a place in the A-final. Our Coach Sven Ueck decides which of them are going to be a part of the quad.
WR: Do you train in other boats besides the quad?
LS: Most of the time we train in the single besides the quad.
WR: When did you know for certain that you would be part of the quad and going to the Rio Olympics?
LS: I knew it after the national championships. There I get a second place.
WR: In the quad are you all friends, or is it more of a ‘rowing/work’ relationship?
LS: I think, over the years we have grown together. But at the training sessions, it's still more a work relationship.
WR: Describe one of your hardest training sessions in the lead up to Rio.
LS: I think about many hard sessions in preparation for Rio, especially at the training camps. It's the hardest time to train when your body just says ‘no’. But in these sessions, you make the steps you need to be a top rower.
WR: Are you a full time rower?
LS: For the Olympics, it was a full time job. But now, I’ve started to study again (journalism).
WR: Since making the junior national team in 2008 you have raced internationally every year since. What is the longest break that you have had from the sport?
LS: The longest break was maybe a month after the under 23 Championships. It was just a break to get new power for the next season. Nearly every year I try to make it a short brake in preparation for the next goals.
WR: After winning Olympic gold, describe what the rest of that day/night was like in Rio?
LS: It was just incredible. We had a big party in the German House. It was a great time.
WR: Did you take some time off after the Olympics? If so what did you do?
LS: Yes, it was time to get away from rowing. I spent some of the time on holiday with other German medallists from the Olympic Games. It was a gift from our national sponsor ( Deutsche Sporthilfe). I also tried some other sports and spent much time riding my motorcycle.
WR: Now that you have an Olympic gold medal, do you plan to continue in rowing? – If so what is your next goal?
LS: For sure, I want to continue rowing. My next goal is the German national championships in my Hometown Krefeld next year in April.