The next big thing in the German single - Hubert Trzybinski
Germany’s Hubert Trzybinski is the reigning under-23 Champion in the men’s single sculls and he has returned to race at the 2012 World Rowing Under-23 Championships in Trakai, Lithuania. World Rowing caught up with him at the Trakai rowing course to talk about life as Under 23 World Champion, rowing in the single and his expectations for the future.
World Rowing: How old where you when you started rowing?
Hubert Trzybinski: I started when I was nine-years-old. My father was a rower as well so he convinced me to come with him. In the first two years I was more involved in fun rowing and rowing tours.
WR: How long did it take until your first competition?
HT: Actually after two years I got a bit bored so I changed rowing clubs. The club I used to be in was nice but very small. They couldn’t really offer good support and the training conditions were not the best. The new club, RG Rotation had a bigger youth group and better coaches. I started at some small regattas, for example in 2004 I rowed the single at the Bundeswettbewerb für Jungen und Mädchen (A German rowing competitions for boys and girls from 12-14 years).
WR: What happened after that?
HT: Shortly before I turned 15 I was sent to the federal rowing base by my rowing club. I think this was still based on the old East German structure. Small German clubs used to send their athletes to bigger clubs or straight to the federal bases in order to ensure optimal support. They pushed me a lot and from 2006 until 2009 I was pretty successful at the national level.
Unfortunately in 2009 I was forced to rest due to an injury and I couldn’t hang on to my training workload. So I was more than happy when I could take up full training again and get back into the team.
When I reached the under-23 level Dieter Oehm became my coach. I really enjoy working with him. Right now he is coaching Eric Knittel and Stephan Krueger (German Olympic men’s double). In his absence I am coached by Ruediger Reiche who is a great coach as well. I like the differences in coaching styles and I get along pretty well with both of them. Besides they have known each other for ages which you can feel.
WR: When and how did you find out that you did the World Best Time in the men’s single last year at the World Rowing Under 23 Championships?
HT: I didn’t know it straight after the race, I was only told later on. It was a big surprise to me, I didn’t expect something like that. The race was really good and I managed to row it in a very controlled manner but a new World Best Time was just not on my list. I only wanted to become World Champion. Besides Georgi Bozhilov (BUL) was quite strong and coming close. Actually at the 1000m mark I was one length behind so I had to push harder. Apparently my race plan was successful.
WR: What is your favourite boat?
HT: I like the single but sometimes you are just a bit too much on your own. Team spirit is a nice thing as well and I think that rowing in a crew is great. Since I am the fastest rower in the single at the moment it makes more sense for me to stay in this boat. But in general I would say that I am open and flexible. I prefer sculling though as I have never seriously tried sweeping. I don’t even have an idea if I would be a good sweeper.
WR: You graduated from high school last year. What have you done since then?
HT: I just decided to dedicate this year completely to my Olympic trial which unfortunately did not work out. But right now I’m motivated to go on with university. I would like to study. I’m really interested in medicine and that is what I would like to make my profession.
Of course rowing will be an important part of my future – if not the most important one. I still have a lot of improvement potential, both technically and physically. I want to focus on my studies but my priority is definitely to work towards Rio 2016 (Olympics). My first year at the international senior level will be a challenge as well.
WR: You were student at the Flatow-Oberschule. (a high school with a special focus on high performance athletes and their support). How was the everyday life there?
HT: Normally you need to pass several sport tests to be approved at the Flatow-Oberschule. My way was slightly different. First of all I was a bit older – normally you enter the school at the fifth grade. I entered the school later than that and since I had been pretty successful on a national level at that time I did not need to undergo the sport tests. The principal of the school was really supportive and they considered my success at regattas as ‘having passed the sport test’.
It was a nice experience. The school is very well organised and it’s a good atmosphere – both between the teachers and the students. The support on the scholastic level was amazing so that I never had problems making good grades. But our everyday life was shaped by the training sessions. Mostly the days began with a quick session at 7am. School started at 9:30am and took about five to six hours, followed by a second training session in the evening.
It helped a lot to be surrounded by other athletes. The Flatow-Oberschule hosted many different kind of athletes and everyone knew about the tight schedule high performance sport requires.
WR: How did you feel racing at your first senior event, the Munich World Rowing Cup, this year?
HT: Oh, there is a huge difference between the under-23 and the senior level. You just realise how much more experience and power they have. It’s just another level of rowing. I have tried to watch rowers, like Synek or Drysdale, during their races or on video to get an idea about their way of rowing. But it is definitely something else if you are at the start, next to them. During the first 500 meters you still might have a chance to keep up. But then it is as if they just push the button. But I’m still young and I need to grow into this all.
In general I really enjoy competitive sport even if it is tough sometimes. There is a really warm atmosphere within our national team and the training group and I like spending time with them.
WR: What do you expect of the race here at the Under 23 Championships?
HT: I feel confident. I need to keep an eye on Juan Carlos Cabrera (MEX) though. He rowed against me in the B-final at the World Cup in Munich and came 8th behind me. So he might be dangerous.