From London to Plovdiv – in pursuit of success
19/08/2012 - 09:10:00
A rower finishes competing at the Olympic Games; what do they do next?
Take a break and spend some time with family and friends? Go home and do some media work, visit local schools and rowing clubs? Or do they set their sights on becoming a World Champion in one of the seven senior non-Olympic boat classes at the World Rowing Senior & Junior Championships, held just over a week after the end of the Olympic Rowing Regatta?
A number of athletes who lined up at the start line in Eton Dorney earlier this month are now backing their boats into the stake boats here in Plovdiv, Bulgaria at the 2012 World Rowing Championships. Some come here feeling as though they got the best out of themselves at the 2012 Olympic Games while others are here to end their season on a high after disappointment in London.
One of the most anticipated races at the London 2012 Olympic Games Rowing Regatta was the men’s eight. Germany was faced with the pressure of completing the perfect Olympiad, winning every race they had entered since 2009. Under the guidance of coxswain Martin Sauer, glory was achieved in the form of Olympic gold. Sauer is at Plovdiv in the coxswain’s seat of his country’s lightweight men’s eight.
Sauer came to Plovdiv directly from London and he says, “Honestly, I’m quite happy to escape all the media questions! It’s nice to have a bit of a break from all the media frenzy that comes with winning an Olympic gold medal. And this is a great opportunity to do it.”
The German lightweight men’s eight was formed from a strong pool of lightweights who had been challenging for places in the Olympic team as well as the crew that finished ninth in the lightweight men’s four in London. Lars Wichert from the lightweight four says that racing in Plovdiv was never a question. “During the national trials for the Olympics we thought it might be nice for the entire team if the four that were not selected for the Olympics to have a chance to compete at the World Championships. We wanted to finish the season together as an entire crew.”
For Wichert personally, success in Plovdiv will play a big part in his season. “Our result in London was not really what we hoped for. We didn’t reach the final by a small margin which was pretty disappointing. We would like to achieve a really good result at the season's last race,” Wichert says.
Another notable name on the start list of the World Rowing Senior Championships is one of Italy’s most successful rowers; Olympic medallist Elia Luini. He comes to Plovdiv after his result in the lightweight men’s double sculls in London fell short of the hopes he had built up over the past four years.
In Plovdiv Luini raced in the lightweight men’s quadruple sculls, and although success in this event won’t make up for his Olympic disappointment, he still sees it as a real challenge. “This year London was the most important goal,” Luini says, “but we still want to do well here and finish off (the season) in a good way.”
Denmark’s Henrik Stephansen set himself the challenge at the start of the 2012 season: to qualify for and race at the Olympic Games in the men’s single sculls (where he finished 13th) and also defend his title in the lightweight men’s single sculls. “Impossible” many would have thought, but not for this Danish sculling sensation. Stephansen also has had to drop his bodyweight to weigh in at a maximum of 72.5kg here in Plovdiv.
Stephansen says, “it was hard to go from such a huge event to a rather small regatta and it has been a bit tougher than I expected it to be, but the importance of this event has been at the top of my list for 2012.”
Greece’s Alexandra Tsiavou stood on the podium in London to receive the bronze medal she had earned in the lightweight women’s double sculls. What motivated her to continue on to challenge for a World Championship title in the lightweight single? “I knew it was a possibility before the Olympics, but I said that I would decide after the competition. I then felt that it was okay to come. I didn’t feel that I particularly needed a rest”, Tsiavou says positively.
Tsiavou takes great pride in her decision to race at these World Rowing Championships and her enthusiasm is impossible to hide. “I am here to fight for one more medal for my country. This is very important to me. I decided to come here because I feel very excited and still very happy with the Olympic Games, I’m still in the right mood for this,” she says.