Italy’s sister act
16/08/2012 - 13:54:00
When Serena and Georgia Lo Bue won the women’s pair at the 2011 World Rowing Junior Championships they set a precedent for Italian women’s rowing. Few Italian junior women row, even fewer choose sweep rowing.
The Lo Bue sisters are competing at the 2012 World Rowing Senior & Junior Championships in Plovdiv, Bulgaria and they aim to defend their 2011 Junior Champion title. Serena and Georgia finished in their heat on Wednesday in Plovdiv and thus go directly to the final which they will race on Saturday, 18 August 2012 at 12:55 (EEST).
Serena and Georgia talked to World Rowing about how they ended up rowing the pair and being a female sweep rower in Italy.
World Rowing: When and why did you start rowing?
Georgia Lo Bue: We started rowing seven years ago. My coach (Benedetto Vitale) came to our school to promote rowing. I wanted to try it and went to the training session. I really enjoyed it and convinced Serena to join me.
WR: Tell me about your first competition?
Serena Lo Bue: Our first regatta was a small regional competition. We started together in the double. It was not an amazing result – we came second, out of 2…
WR: Did you start rowing in the pair straight away?
Serena: I am one year younger than Georgia and because we were in different categories we couldn’t row in the same crew. So we both rowed in the single. When I turned 14 we started rowing in a crew together.
WR: The pair is a rather unusual category for Italian girls. How did you end up rowing it?
Georgia: Actually our coach Benedetto convinced us to try the pair. He had lost a bet and so he had to teach us to row in the pair (laughs).
Serena: In general it is difficult to find other girls to row with. Rowing (mostly sweeping) is not a very popular sport amongst girls in Italy and especially in Sicily, where we are from, you hardly find any rowing girls. In the junior category there is just one other girl, apart from us.
Georgia: Since we are pretty small and don’t have the typical ‘sweep physiology’ it has been difficult for us sometimes to convince people, our national coach included, that we would like to row in the pair. Most of the time they suggested that we change boat classes. But we insisted on staying in the pair.
In 2010 we won the Coupe de Jeunesse in Hazewinkel. That was a surprise to our coaches. Also the other girls probably didn’t take us seriously when they saw us but apparently we were pretty strong (laughs).
We would like to go on rowing in the pair. Due to our physique it might be difficult for us in the under-23 category though and we hope that the women’s lightweight pair will be introduced next year.
WR: Here in Plovdiv you are rowing in the pair and the eight. How do you feel about this?
Serena: It is actually the first time that Italy has entered a junior women’s eight so we consider it like a first try. We have been working on the crew for a while now. Our first competition was the European Junior Championships in Bled in June this year. It was alright, we came second after the Romanian eight.
Georgia: We all come from all over Italy so it gets tricky sometimes to coordinate the training. Mostly during wintertime we try to organise several training session at the weekends while during summertime we usually have a training camp in Varese. So we spent the entire July there. It’s a nice group, we really enjoy each other’s company.
WR: How are you doing here in Plovdiv?
Georgia: Alright. We are from Palermo so we should be used to the temperature here. The wind is very weird here though. We haven’t figured out where it is coming from.
WR: What are your rowing plans for the future?
Georgia: We hope that the lightweight women’s pair will be introduced. If not we might have to change to the lightweight women’s double. We don’t really plan for the next year since this is my last year as a junior while Serena still has one more year. So there might be different projects for both of us.
In my life outside of rowing I just graduated from high school this year and I would like to start university soon, probably medicine. Since we came first last year at the World Rowing Junior Championships several United States universities have offered me rowing scholarships. One of the coaches even came to Palermo to talk to my parents. Serena was offered some scholarships as well. I would love her to join me.
Serena: I still need to finish high school so I will contemplate it later.
WR: Rio 2016?
Georgia: It is the dream of every athlete but it’s another four years to go. We probably should take it easy, who knows what might happen in these four years.