From Rio to Rotterdam – Sofia Asoumanaki
Direct from racing to fourth in the women’s double sculls at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, Greek sculler Sofia Asoumanaki is back again at the World Rowing Championships in Rotterdam.
The 19-year-old may be feeling a little bit under the weather, but this has not stopped her from competing in the under-23 women’s single sculls. And, as Asoumanaki says, “This is the beginning of my road to Tokyo.”
Asoumanaki was ‘discovered’ by Greek Olympic medallist and now rowing coach, Vasileious Polymeros, while she was holidaying at the beach. “He asked me to start rowing,” says Asoumanaki. “I was 16. I was about the same size as I am now.”
A swimmer since the age of 2 and a ½, Asoumanaki had to convince her parents that rowing was what she really wanted to do. “In Greece rowing is not a well-known sport, so my father worried that it was not as good a choice as swimming,” says Asoumanaki. “When my parents saw how excited I was for rowing, they fully supported me.”
Four months after getting into a boat, Asoumanaki raced in her first regatta – the junior single at the Italian Rowing Championships. “I was totally lost,” says Asoumanaki, “but through the excitement I won gold.”
Starting out in the single, the goal was for Asoumanaki to attempt to qualify for the Rio Olympics in the women’s single sculls. But when lightweight rower, Aikaterini Nikolaidou could not find a doubles partner, it was decided that Nikolaidou would team up with Asoumanaki in the open-weight double.
Asoumanaki went to the Rio Olympics as a 19-year-old and as one of the younger members of the team. “I was totally supported by the rest of the team, so I didn’t feel that I was younger,” says Asoumanaki. “Perhaps because of my age it made others protect me.”
Earlier this year Asoumanaki set the World Record on the indoor rowing machine. A 6:28.2 for 2000m put the then 18-year-old into the record books. “During training I noticed that I could do fast times. My goal was to break the World Record, but I didn’t expect to break it by so much,” says Asoumanaki who believes that she can go faster.
Now in Rotterdam, Asoumanaki is setting forth on her way to the Tokyo Olympics. “My thought was, I train to race all year long, not to have a holiday. The whole point is rowing and I’m still feeling fresh and active. I want to race. I want to go to other courses in other countries. I’m not tired of racing”