Athlete of the Month – August 2019
Twenty-seven-year-old Belgian sculler Tim Brys is a World Rowing Championship bronze medallist and regular podium finisher in the fiercely competitive lightweight men’s double sculls. He tells us how his most memorable race was a bittersweet one and about his fun battles off the water.
World Rowing: How is the 2019 season treating you – and what is next?
Tim Brys: I can’t complain about 2019’s results. They are very much in line of what we were expecting. We haven’t faced any major injuries this year, so that’s a bonus. Of course, this year it’s all about the World Championships in Linz. We are hoping to get good results there.
WR: Can you tell us about the first time you ever got into a boat?
TB: That must have been the summer of 2003. As a kid my parents got me into a lot of summer camps over the holidays, rowing camp being one of them. I can’t remember much, but for what I can remember, I really enjoyed being in the boat and rowing under the big fountain to refresh myself during those hot summer days.
WR: What made you keep rowing after that – and what keeps you going now?
TB: A friend of mine, with whom I did the camp, called me to join him during a training session at the club. I joined that club soon after and am rowing there now. We started rowing together at the same time as a lot of young guys joined too. We quickly became a group of friends, coached by a great coach that pushed us to be the best rowers we could be.
What keeps me going today is pursuing the most efficient way for the crew and the me to try to make the boat go as fast as possible. You’re still learning about yourself, what your body is capable of and what you are able to achieve if you work really hard. That’s a big motivation for me.
WR: Have you ever done any other sports – and do those skills help your rowing?
TB: I’ve done a lot of different sports, but most of my non-rowing career I was a long distance runner. I’m convinced that running helped me to form a good aerobic ability.
WR: What is your most memorable race?
TB: Without a doubt that must be the Olympic qualification regatta at Lucerne in 2016. Going into the regatta, we had no expectations. We formed the crew just a few months before - Niels was only 19 at that time. We knew a lot of vastly experienced crews entered the event, including the reigning Olympic Champions. We went on to win the event, but not to qualify for the Olympics. I can still remember how I went from being as excited as I could be to being extremely disappointed in just a fraction of a second.
WR: What is your favorite place to row?
TB: I love the calm atmosphere and scenery at the Lucerne regatta course. It’s so peaceful while you’re rowing. Even though the course isn’t that wide, I’m never under the impression that the waves of other boats are disturbing me. There is also barely any wind between the Swiss mountains.
WR: What is your crew dynamic like?
TB: Niels (van Zandweghe) and I are very complementary. I think over the years, this became our biggest advantage. We have the luxury to have worked together for quite some time now, meaning we know what to expect from each other and what we bring to the crew.
WR: What is your race day routine?
TB: We get up early, because we like to have a wake up row before the races start. Depending on how long we have left before the weigh-in, we decide to either leave or stay at the venue. Usually we head back to our hotel to have a rest before we have to gather around with all the skinny guys in the weigh in area. After being checked by the officials we fuel up and start our warm up. We both have our own warm-up routine before we head out on the water.
WR: What is your biggest rowing goal?
TB: For now that would be qualifying for the Olympics.
WR: What do you do for fun?
I’m in a private Clash of Clans battle with Matt Dunham (New Zealand lightweight rower) for the moment. I invest a lot of time trying to beat him ;). I like strolling in stores, finding new and healthy ingredients to box into a meal and of course enjoying the meal afterwards. I also like to take naps, preferably with my cat, and have a good coffee to wake me up again.
WR: What sportsperson do you most admire?
TB: I have to say, I was really impressed by the physical transition of Hamish Bond after his Olympic gold in Rio and his cycling track record in New-Zealand. That demands a lot of dedication to the sports.