Colombian rowing in a time of peace
There is an element of bemusement when Luis Buslay describes the rowing potential in Colombia. For four years, Buslay has been working as a coach in Colombia and the 32-year-old from Germany sees great potential. But he knows the road is not easy in a country that has been shaped by a long-standing civil war but is finally in the peace process.
Rowing photographer, Detlev Seyb visited Buslay in Colombia and took not just photos, but interviewed Buslay as he described his Colombian rowing experience.
Buslay moved to Colombia as a child, living there for two and a half years as his parents were involved in development aid. Retaining his links to Colombia, Buslay was contacted about building the sport of rowing in the country. A former representative rower, Buslay took up coaching over a decade ago and then moved to Guatape, in south central Colombia, as a coach.
“In Guatape there was already a training center and a lot of water. Twenty kilometres on Lake Guatape and the rowing is so interesting because of the many islands, that means four different regattas can be held,” says Buslay. “We are rowing at an altitude of about 2000 meters, we have a very mild climate, during the day it’s sunny and during the night rain. What more do you want?”
Buslay acknowledges the lack of rowing in the country “When I started in 2013, there were a few Colombian rowers, but all training in other countries. For example Rodrigo Ideus Forero, who participated in several World Championships and at the Olympic Games in Beijing, trained outside of Colombia. Ideus remains the only Olympic participant in rowing for Colombia.
There are now three rowing clubs and 18 active rowers in El Penol and 12 in Guatape with Buslay having worked with 500 school pupils. “Hopefully we can prevent talented athletes who have trained in rowing to go to other sports.”
“I was very pleased that Colombia’s National Olympic Committee nominated four rowers and two coaches to go to the South American Championships in Brazil in April,” says Buslay. “I expect a boost from this. And a FISA development camp for Latin America is planned in May with participants from 20 nations.”
Buslay is very optimistic about the future of rowing in Colombia and is also passionate about environmental aspects around the sport. “I personally also wish that through our sport we can promote environmental awareness amongst the people. One of my visions, besides rowing, is that in Le Penol, where the water flows into Lake Guatape, water samples are taken regularly and that the water becomes cleaner and clearer. Rowing and environmental protection are firmly linked.”