Athlete of the Month – September 2020
Twenty-six-year-old French sculler Laura Tarantola is a former World Champion in the lightweight women's single sculls. After training alone in lockdown, then training some more with her doubles partner and then not having a regatta season, she is itching to get back to what she really loves - racing.
World Rowing: How has 2020 been for you?
Laura Tarantola: 2020 was not what I expected. Covid-19 appeared and changed my plans. It was hard to accept this situation, the lockdown, the events cancelled one by one and above all the Olympic postponement. Fortunately I was with my family. I had incredible moments with them which allowed me to recharge my batteries and think about something else. To be honest, I can't wait for this year to end and see what 2021 will bring to me.
WR: Where have you been training and have Covid-19 restrictions changed the way you have been training?
LT: My club lent me a Rowperfect and an erg, a weight lifting bar and a watt bike during the three months of lockdown. I was pretty well off when it came training during this time. We had a training schedule to follow. I am lucky to have a garden so I was able to exercise safely outside. Since June, I have been able to go to the national camp to row in the double with Claire (Bove). Everything is as it used to be, except for the masks and the hygiene measures that we have to stay healthy.
WR: Will you compete at the European Championships and how are you feeling about racing again?
LT: Of course! We were so happy that the event is still planned. I expect the best result possible but also I am really looking forward to being there, to feel the stress and emotions of international competition. I really missed it. Having this competition is a bit like seeing "the light at the end of the tunnel" as a kind of reward after these past months that we have just lived.
WR: Why rowing?
LT: I started rowing in 2008 thanks to a friend who rowed when I was in college. She told me to come to try it for fun and I went. What made me stay at first was the atmosphere at the Aviron Grenoblois Club, a group of 15 girls my age who seemed to be having a blast. I really wanted to fit in with this group, that's what motivated me to come at first. I’m also lucky because where I row the environment is magical. We are surrounded by mountains and I immediately liked practicing an outdoor sport. Then I learned to have sensations, to feel the speed, the boat sliding, the cohesion that we can have as a crew and it is these sensations, this symbiosis that make me love this sport. And luckily, the results came quickly which also motivated me to continue.
WR: Did you ever do other sports?
LT: I often cycle, run and swim and in winter cross-country skiing. Cross-country skiing and rowing have similarities.
WR: What is your most memorable race?
LT: Each season and each race has its beautiful story, but there is one race that I’ll remember until my last breath - the final of the World Championships in 2018 in a lightweight single scull. I felt so good, like the planets were all aligned. It was a really good race and the result made the moment wonderful and the emotions unforgettable.
WR: How do you prepare on race day?
LT: I like to go for a walk to wake up, then depending on my weight I may or may not eat. Two hours before the race we have the weigh-in, then we have a snack. We warm up an hour before and get on the water.
WR: What is your next big goal?
LT: The big goal for this season is the Tokyo Olympics next summer. The goal is the same, we just have 12 more months to be stronger.
WR: Do you row full time or do you also work or study?
LT: I graduated from business school last year and I am now employed in a rail transport company, SNCF. I am a project manager. I have a contract that allows me to go on training camp and competitions.
WR: What do you to relax or have fun?
LT: During lockdown I did a lot of yoga. I discovered this practice shortly before. It relaxes me and I really love it. Also, I really enjoy partying with friends - I'm always up for a beer! I also love mountains, going for a bivouac with friends.
WR: Which sports person do you most admire?
LT: Without hesitation, Martin Fourcade, a French biathlete. I admire the enthusiasm he created for his sport, the way he communicates and his warrior mind. Seeing how he has managed to return to the top level after a complicated 2019 shows the champion he is. As a sportswoman he’s an example for me. It would be my dream to make him try rowing.