Fighting fit former rowing champions race at World Masters Games
Some of the biggest rowing names from days gone by have been back in action at the 2017 World Masters Games – and showing they still have a hunger for medals.
The multi-sport Games have just finished in Auckland, New Zealand, with the rowing events held at Lake Karapiro, home of the national high performance centre.
Olympic and World Champion in the men’s single sculls, Rob Waddell, was among a host of New Zealand former top rowers who took the chance to race in their own backyard. Waddell won with his Waikato Rowing Club in the men’s eight and men’s four but he and trans-Atlantic champion Rob Hamill had to settle for silver in the men’s double sculls. Hamill is also an Olympian.
Two-time women’s double sculls World Champions Phillipa Baker-Hogan and Brenda Lawson got together again and blitzed the field to take gold in their age group by more than seven seconds.
A United States gold medallist at the Tokyo Olympics, 78-year-old coxswain Kent Mitchell, won a gold and two silvers as coxwain for the club he founded.
Eighty-five-year-old Norwegian former Olympian, Tor Ahlsand, was one of the oldest competitors and took gold in the men’s single sculls for the 85-plus age grade.
There were also former elite rowers from Russia, Greece, Great Britain, Canada, Lithuania, Germany, the Czech Republic, Australia and the United States taking part against many other keen rowers from around the world (there is no requirement to have rowed at the top level).
Conditions on the 1000-metre course were perfect for the five days, with mostly fine weather and little wind.
The Games technical director for rowing, Lee Spear, says he was blown away by the standard of rowing from the roughly 1200 athletes. And, despite the fun atmosphere, there was still a hunger for victory.
“Rowers never lose that competitive mindset,” said Spear. “They may come for a good time but put them on the water and they’ll crawl over broken water to win the race.”
Masters rower are divided into different age groups, with the youngest starting at 27 and the oldest 85-and-over.
Nearly 1200 athletes took part with many taking the chance to race in several events, with a schedule designed to help them do just that.
Full results here.