Dimakou returns after 12 year break
Fifteen years ago, Greek rower Georgia Dimakou was competing as a junior in the women’s double sculls. As a senior she focused on lightweight rowing, racing alternatively in the single, double or quad. A regular A-finalist, her career finished early when she became pregnant.
Now, three children later, Dimakou is competing again. In her comeback race, she finished ninth at the European Rowing Championships in the lightweight women's double and raced again in this boat class at the World Rowing Cup in Lucerne.
With one year to go until the 2016 Olympic Games, Dimakou is training full time in the hope of qualifying for Rio 2016. And in less than a month she will participate in the World Rowing Championships which doubles as the main Rio Olympic Qualification Regatta. Dimakou will compete with Amalia Tsiavou who recently won gold in the lightweight single sculls at the World Rowing Under 23 Championships.
World Rowing: You’ve had a break from international competitive rowing for the past 12 years.
Georgia Dimakou: My first pregnancy, 11 years ago, led me to stop competition. During all of those years, I mainly focused on my family, the raising of my children and their needs. My kids were born in 2005, 2007 and 2009 and they are now six, eight and ten years old.
WR: What led you to come back to international competition?
GD: On one hand it was my own decision to start training again as a way to defuse the stress of the day. On the other hand it was primarily my husband’s and family’s support that contributed a lot to my final decision to take it a step further and compete after all those years. The first and most important incentive for a mother is to have her family’s support.
WR: What are your short-term rowing goals?
GD: My short-term goal is for the World Rowing Championships in Aiguebelette where I am hoping to get a qualifying position for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
WR: What is the intensity of your training in this Olympic qualification year?
GD: My training this year is really hard. I have to mostly train with the Greek national team and as a result I have to be 100 per cent there. Actually I have not trained that hard the last 12 years. The programme is very intense, it takes most of my day, but I see that the results are good and my efforts are paying off.
WR: Over the years, how have you been able to organise motherhood and training? Did you also work or study during this time?
GD: During the years that my children were little it was really hard for me to train. When my smallest son went to kindergarten and my two daughters went to school, I had enough time to start training again. During this difficult period, I also managed to finish my studies and finish my degree in dietetics and nutrition.
WR: What are your future professional goals?
GD: My main professional goal is to continue helping people adopt a healthier way of life. The key is to show them that healthy nutrition results in better quality of life and not only in weight loss. When someone understands that his/her life will get much better, then my goal is achieved. Moreover, with the cooperation of primary schools I do some lectures and exercises for primary school students to show them that exercise and healthy nutrition is crucial for their proper growth and health. Good nutritional habits start at baby age and are harder to change in adulthood.
WR: As a mother, what is it that you enjoy about spending time in the boat?
GD: When I am in the water my mind is focused on training. My mind is empty of any other thoughts. Needless to mention that while other mothers like to spend their limited free time drinking coffee with their friends or in spas and beauty salons, I prefer to spend my whole free time in rowing. It feels right and it is all exclusively for me.
WR: Were you able to keep on training during your pregnancies?
GD: When I became pregnant with my first daughter I was still training until the fifth month of pregnancy. I trained both on the ergometer and in the boat. Until the fourth month of pregnancy I trained with full intensity. In my second and third pregnancies I stopped training by the end of the third month.
WR: How soon after pregnancy were you able to start training again?
GD: Twenty days after I gave birth to my first and second daughters, I started training regularly. I even won a medal at the National Rowing Championships in the lightweight women’s single sculls. After my third pregnancy it took me almost three years to be able to start training again. It was really hard for me to start all over again after each pregnancy.
During pregnancy I had to stop training for five or six months. As a result, I had to start from almost point zero. The psychological pressure is great as you have to overcome the barriers of fatigue in relation to the fact that you are not in such a good physical condition as before getting pregnant.