Inspiration behind indoor rowing record success
Five Olympic rowers went after four indoor rowing world records. Two new world records were set in the ‘Row for Sarah – Super Saturday’ in Melbourne, Australia.
Matt Ryan and Nick Purnell broke the 100km tandem record when they clocked 5:30:45.2. Two-time Olympic medallist, Karsten Forsterling set a world record for the men’s 30-39-year-old 60 minutes category by going 18287m. The former record was 18259m set in 2015.
In addition, Olympic medallist Joshua Dunkley-Smith moved into the world’s top three by setting a new Australian record over 2000m in a time of 5:38.6 – just two seconds off the world record. And Sam Loch just missed his own one-minute world record set earlier this year.
The event took place in honour of three-time Olympian and London 2012 Olympic silver medallist Sarah Tait, who died last year at the age of 33 from cancer. Tait was the first Australian mother to win a medal at the Olympics and an inspiration for many rowers around the world.
“Sarah was one of the toughest athletes I have ever come across and it took a while to come up with something that would do her name justice and that would honour such an inspirational person the right way,” said event organiser Matt Ryan. “When we decided on the 100km, we were not sure if it was possible, but we thought we had to give it a crack. Our rowing mates then decided to join in with a couple of other distances, which made this an amazing event. Hopefully we can turn it into an annual event.”
For the tandem attempt, 2008 Olympic silver medallist Ryan and London Olympian Purnell swapped every two minutes and broke the former record by nearly eight minutes.
“Obviously there was some pain involved, but it was fun too, especially with the room full of supporters and doing it for such an important cause,” said Purnell. “The most important thing for us making it through was nutrition, high-sugar foods like lollies, Nutella sandwiches and it helps when you can get off and on.”
Two-time Olympic medallist Dunkley-Smith set a personal best for 2000m, completing it in bare feet. “My previous best was 5:39.7, said Dunkley-Smith. “I’m really happy with (5:38.6) given my training this year after taking a bit of a break post Rio. A lot of really good people have done the 2ks and that’s why it’s one of the hardest records to break. Obviously, it’s disappointing to be that little bit under the world record, but I’m making good progress. I certainly won’t try to do it again today, but I’m in a pretty good place at the moment, so give it a couple of weeks and I’ll see how I go next time.”
Super-Saturday was completed with dual-Olympian Loch filling in short notice for Joshua Booth. Loch focused on trying to break his own one-minute world record of 425m, but missed it by just 12m.
The fundraising campaign is ongoing and donations can be made via the GoFundMe page page here: https://www.gofundme.com/super-saturday
Follow www.facebook.com/rowforsarah for video and photo content of the event.
See the current concept2 World Records with the new ones still to be added here: http://www.concept2.com.au/indoor-rowers/racing/records