Brothers in coxing
The family resemblance and brother banter is strong between coxing brothers David and Tim Webster.
The two Australians have both coxed internationally and have both been selected to represent Australia in 2014. David will have the reins of the men's eight, while Tim is steering the lightweight men's eight and men's coxed pair.
Three years older than Tim, David took up rowing first when he was in high school. "I wanted to boss people around and I was pretty decent from the start," says David.
"I followed in David's footsteps," says Tim. "I was already around so much because of David."
The step up to the national team is about getting results and being noticed. David, 26, first made the national team in 2009 when he coxed the under-23 men's eight to a fourth-place finish. He then moved up to the senior team as cox of the lightweight men's eight and men's coxed pair. This earned David two World Championship titles and two silver medals. In 2012 David went up against Toby Lister to cox the Olympic men's eight. Lister won out leaving David with a drive to be the cox for Rio 2016. In 2013 David moved one step closer by making it into the seat of the senior men's eight.
Following a similar path, Tim also started out coxing the men's eight at the World Rowing Under-23 Championships, a couple of years after David. Tim's crew were seventh. The following year the under-23 crew steered by Tim won bronze. Last year Tim made the senior team and joined David at the World Rowing Championships, coxing the lightweight men's eight to a silver medal.
At the Sydney World Rowing Cup, Tim is coxing the Australian men's eight second boat while David is coxing the first Australian eight.
Tim readily admits that David has more experience and with both of them based at the same rowing centre, Victoria Institute of Sport (VIS) in Melbourne, they keep an eye on what each other are doing. They have rowing scholarships and both are studying at university. Also at VIS is women's coxswain Lizzy Patrick, and the three of them often get together to “talk coxing.”
"We do a peer review amongst ourselves," says Tim. "A lot of focus is put on the athletes and the coxswains are a second thought," says David. "The coach pushes all of us to get the best out of ourselves and Tim keeps me and Lizzy on our toes."
David and Tim readily talk rowing with each other, but when they're both home for a family dinner their mother has set a rule to try and minimise the rowing talk. "She loves rowing, but the ins and outs get a bit boring," says David. "It's good to have a break and talk about normal stuff."
So are the brothers constantly trying to knock each other out of the coxswain's seat? The response is respectful. Tim readily admits that David has the greater experience and, "is ranked above me." But for the Rio Olympics the brothers are likely to be going head-to-head to make the men's eight boat.
"Coming so close to (getting to go to) London and missing out, I now want to stay in the boat and go all of the way to Rio," says David.
"I'm going to push him for a spot for Rio," says Tim, "and I'm also aiming for Tokyo (2020)."
"You've got to be confident in your skills especially if others are coming," says David. "You've got to back yourself and you've got to fight tooth and nail to hold onto the seat."