Athlete of the Month – October 2019
Just turning 26-year-old Danish sculler Sverri Nielsen began his rowing journey in traditional wooden boats in the Faroe Islands. This year he’s won World Rowing Championships silver in the single sculls and picked up a couple World Cup golds on the way too. And he’s won gold at the European Rowing Indoor Championships.
World Rowing: What did you feel about winning World Championship silver – and the race?
Sverri Nielsen: I was very happy about the race. I talked to my coach after the semifinal and we agreed that the final was going to be a very good and close race so I wanted to do a bit better than in the semi. The day before the final we tried some things in training, which worked very well and I was able to perform better on the day of the final.
WR: Why have you done so well this year in particular?
SN: I’m not sure. But my coach Thomas Poulsen has helped a lot with my technique and I’m really happy about the improvements we’ve made through this season. Combined with more training and a better physical capacity that’s probably it.
WR: How has being a Faroe Islander shaped you as a rower?
SN: It might have toughened me up a little. The weather can be pretty rough especially in winter. We are very free to roam around in the fjords or mountains and I’ve always enjoyed being outside and active.
WR: Why did you start rowing?
SN: I liked the training aspect. I started erging at the local club and had some talent on the machine. Afterwards I rowed in Faroese boats and got hooked on pushing myself to the limit and enjoyed the environment at the club.
WR: Why do you keep rowing?
SN: Because I enjoy it, I like training and to see the improvement from all the hard work.
WR: What is your favourite place to row and why?
SN: In the Faroe Island because I find Faroese rowing very fun even though I’ve never won a race. Or Lucerne - the Rotsee is a very good lake with beautiful surroundings.
WR: How does your approach to an indoor rowing competition differ from your approach to rowing on the water?
SN: It is mostly the same approach, except for the technical focus on the water - be ready to give everything I can, follow the race plan and try to perform at my best.
WR: What is your next big goal and how do you plan to achieve it?
SN: The big goal is the Olympics. I just want to get better and leave no stone unturned so when Tokyo rolls around I know that I’ve done everything I could to be at my best on the day.
WR: How will you spend your winter?
SN: Rowing, erging and lifting weights. Hopefully I’ll go on a ski camp so I don’t get tired of rowing in Denmark.
WR: What do you do when you are not rowing?
SN: I eat and sleep.
WR: What do you do for fun?
SN: In Denmark I mostly just chill with friends. When I’m home on the island I like to fish, hunt, ride and be out and about. There is always something to do.
WR: Which sportsperson do you most admire?
SN: People that work hard and find a way to perform on the day - Mathew Frasier, Bolt, Mahe Drysdale ‘from Beijing 2008’