Building masters rowers in Norway
09/09/2012 - 11:30:00
In a small coastal town in north-west Norway, four masters rowers were hard at work recruiting novices, who they would teach to row, teach them how to compete and bring them to the 2012 World Rowing Masters Regatta in Duisburg, Germany.
One of these men, Johan Myklebust told World Rowing: “We invited friends to our rowing club and in the beginning they were very reluctant to try this, but then the group grew, and soon we had 10, 11, 12 rowers. More and more joined us. The quality of the training is always improving."
One of the coaches, and rowers, Are Berset explains: “One third of the training schedule we row on the machine or on the water. Another third, we do basic exercises for the back and for the core and the other third is weights and strength training. Stimulating the core muscles has been very important as they are trying out a new sport at over 40 years old. It is much more difficult to learn something when you are old than when you are young. But it is not impossible.”
Both Myklebust and Berset started rowing at a young age.
“I used to row growing up and participated in the national team, but then I quit and moved to Oslo,” says Berset. “After 20 years I moved back, and then Johan and I started this project together almost immediately."
A recurrent theme amongst masters rowers in Duisburg is that many rowed when they were younger and then took some time out to focus on their careers, before returning to rowing later in life. Berset is one such example:
“My health was like s**t! My career took over for 20 years, but it was so nice to come back to my home town. Coming back was the best part of it – I know what it takes to come back, I knew that the other guys could sit behind me in the boat and take part in my journey back to fitness. In the beginning, of course, it is very hard, but I think the body remembers.”
The social element of masters rowing is important for both Mykleburst and Berset. “For us, the core element is social. It must be social, it must be fun, the most important thing is to participate and have fun together,” says Berset.
Just before speaking to World Rowing, the two men had finished second in the M2x, but more importantly, beat Thomas Lange, a two-time Olympic Champion and five-time World Champion from Germany. Since, they have won their race in the men's pair to win a medal.
“We had one aim that was to beat Lange,” says Besert. “He was in the lane beside us. He was the best rower in the world and to meet him and beat him was great.”
The two rowers from Norway hope to compete each year and to recruit more rowers to their club. “At the moment we are just men,” Berset explains and he is already planning ahead. “Next year in Italy (at the World Rowing Masters Regatta), we want to have 20 men and 20 women.”