Eton Dorney World Cup revives Olympic memories
When the Samsung World Rowing Cup II returned to the London Olympic Regatta Course in Eton Dorney (GBR) it aroused memories for many of the athletes racing again on the Dorney Lake waters. For some it was the first time they had raced internationally since the Olympic Games and reactions varied.
Rowing at the London Olympics was unique in the size and level of crowd support. The term ‘Dorney Roar’ was coined. The roar meant that rowers sitting in the starting blocks, 2km from the finish, did not sit in the customary silence of the start, rather they could hear the roar of the crowd that grew louder and louder as they raced towards the end.
This time, at the World Cup, the huge finish line grandstand was no longer erected, the number of television cameras and photographers was greatly reduced and the Olympic colours and buzz did not prevail. Crowds numbering over 5000 people, however, broke all records for World Cup attendance and, under the encouragement of course commentators, the Dorney Roar was replicated.
Eleanor Logan who rowed in the women’ single sculls for the United States at the World Cup, won gold at the Olympics in the women’s eight. Logan commented, “It’s great to be back in Dorney. There are a lot of people for a World Cup. The crowd is fantastic.”
For William Lockwood of Australia coming back to Eton Dorney was a form of redemption. Lockwood finished with silver behind Great Britain in the men’s four at the Olympics and he was hoping that this time his boat would be ahead of the British. “Obviously they got the edge on us at the Olympics and there was no way we were going to let that happen again. We tried to speed through the middle and hold on at the end which was exactly what we did. I’m proud of the boys,” said Lockwood after their gold medal finish.
Lockwood’s teammate, Alexander Lloyd did not race at the Olympics so the experience was new to him. “The crowd is pretty special. This is my first major event and to come back to where the Olympics were held and still seeing people turn out is great,” said Lloyd.
In the women’s pair at the London Olympics Marlene Sinnig of Germany finished sixth with her partner Kerstin Hartmann. The duo remain together and this time, at the World Cup, they won bronze. “It is quite emotional to be back in London after the Olympics,” stated Sinnig.
One of the standout features at Eton Dorney during the Olympics was the number of volunteers and their enthusiasm, friendliness and knowledge of rowing. Diana Leth helped out last year and returned for the World Cup. Leth says her standout memory of the Olympics was that everyone was so happy, “We all wanted it to be amazing. The atmosphere was great, it was impossible to not enjoy it.”
Volunteer Jennifer Thompson remembered the noise level. “You could hear it like a wave reverberating through the stands. Your ears were ringing, the hairs standing up on the back of your neck, it was electric, like a tsunami of noise following the boats down the course.”
Thompson added that the World Cup, in comparison, was much more relaxed. “At the Olympics, people were nervous, it was the first time we were all working together. But now we know each other, so it’s definitely easier.”
Oksana Masters raced at Eton Dorney in the Paralympic Games where she finished third in the TA mixed double sculls with Rob Jones. Masters and Jones raced together again at the World Cup and finished third.
“It always feels good to be back racing, and especially international racing,” said Masters. “It’s really cool to be back. I remember the finish line and hearing the audience and the crowd. It’s good to have those memories and be able to come back to it.”