Multi-national training camp draws future Olympians
At the hands of FISA's development programme, Seville, Spain became the venue for Olympic hopefuls from rowing development countries.
Athletes included those hoping to qualify for the 2014 Youth Olympic Games (with spots remaining for rowers from Latin America) and the Rio 2016 Olympic Games as well as other continental and international regattas.
Over two weeks athletes and coaches received first-class instruction from FISA development director Thor Nilsen of Norway and camp assistant director Penny Chuter from Great Britain as well as FISA technical delegate Osvaldo Borchi and FISA coach Tunisia's Chokri Ben Miled. International experts also tested athlete biomechanics and exercise physiology.
As well as training athletes the camp acted as an educational camp for coaches who will be working with FISA over the next four years.
Participants came from 11 countries including Algeria, Croatia, El Salvador, Libya, Mexico, Peru, Puerto Rico, Tunisia, Uruguay, Uzbekistan and Venezuela. This included a mixture of male and female athletes and trainee coaches.
Rowing biomechanics expert Dr Valery Klesnev and medical doctor Nills-Peter Lilledahal assisted with athlete testing including V02 max, anaerobic threshold and biomechanical testing.
As numbers are limited, all athletes had to go through a selection process by their national federations, followed by acceptance from their National Olympic Committee. FISA then invited a mixture of male and female athletes and coaches. This year, numbers were a lot higher than previous years, as the interest was high.
The majority of participants have already competed internationally. Alvaro Torres Masias of Peru raced in the men's single sculls at two World Rowing Junior Championships, while Tunisia's Mohamed Taieb finished 21st in the men's single at last year's World Rowing Junior Championships.
One of the more experienced athletes was two-time Olympian Camila Vargas Palomo of El Salvador. Vargas competed at both the London and Beijing Olympic Games in the women's single sculls.
FISA development manager Sheila Stephens Desbans says the feedback has been positive, "They seem to be benefiting from this incredible learning experience both from the testing and the training. They welcomed the video sessions as well as the physiological and biomechanical testing results as they can use this information in the future to develop their physical and technical capabilities."
The nature of conducting a multi-national training camp meant that coaching swapped between various languages according to the athletes' needs. Coaches were allocated to groups with this in mind. The camp is an important part of FISA’s larger goal to develop the sport of rowing around the world.