Returning to top level racing as a 50-year-old
Sitting in the men’s eight race at this year’s Croatian Rowing Championships was three-time Olympian, Olympic medallist from Sydney 2000 and the nearly 50-year-old Igor Boraska.
Held at Lake Jarun in Zagreb, Boraska joined a crew that included the World and Olympic Champion Valent and Martin Sinkovic and junior team rowers from club HAVK Mladost - Zagreb.
Boraska has been dabbling in coastal rowing, but this was his first time back doing a flat-water 2000m race in eight years. He started training for this back in March. And he trained hard.
“My desire was to do well and finish in top four pairs at the trials. These four pairs then formed the club's eight, led by Sinković brothers,” says Boraska. “Me and my partner finished third and made the team which raced and won the National Championship in the men’s eight. Amazingly, two guys who were our bow pair are still juniors, born in 2004, which means we had 34-year span sitting in the same boat!”
“It was a fantastic feeling to enjoy the speed of a fast eight and to row alongside the world's best rowers, Valent and Martin Sinkovic, who were just starting their senior international career, when I retired from the Croatian National Team in 2008,” says Boraska. “Winning a title in the eight was a nice present to myself for my 50th birthday (26 Sept26) and reminded me of the 20th anniversary of the Croatian men’s eight winning the bronze medal at the Sydney Olympic Games in 2000 (24 Sept).”
Boraska says he started by training mostly in the single once the clubs re-opened in Croatia in mid-May. He also erged, swam and did between 20-25km of running per week along with some light weights workouts.
“I did about five or six sessions a week, out of which three were in the single or erg.”
The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic meant that Croatian rowing clubs were closed from mid-March to mid-May. During this time Boraska used his WaterRower at home, did two long sessions per week of Stand Up Paddle-boarding and two running session.
“I would say that COVID didn’t affect my training much.”
The trickiest thing for Boraska in increasing his training was to recover properly. “The important thing was just listening to my body, so I had to cut short a few interval trainings like 3x10 minutes or 4x7 minutes, when I felt that I was getting too exhausted.” Boraska then recovered.
“I took three days between two interval training sessions during July and August.”
Since retiring from the Croatian national team, Boraska has never stopped training. The difference was a change to coastal rowing and working on the 6 – 8km distances. For the Croatian National Championships he had to go to the 2km distance and look at racing at 38 strokes per minute.
In the lead-up Boraska rowed with Luka Baricevic. Together they recorded 6:54 for 2k in the pair in the trials for the eight.
Now Boraska is moving back to coastal rowing. He’s been invited to the first Slovenian coastal rowing regatta next month. As long as travel restrictions are eased, the regatta will take place in Izola on 24-25 October 2020. Then Boraska’s focus will return to the 2021 World Rowing Coastal Championships.