Vaclav Chalupa races in Duisburg
08/09/2012 - 17:42:00
It is not every day you see an Olympic silver medallist, multiple world medallist and the 2012 recipient of the 2012 Thomas Keller Medal Award racing in a DM4x at the World Rowing Masters Regatta.
Yet, such is the magical spirit and camaraderie involved in masters rowing, crowds witnessed Vaclav Chalupa, the Czech single sculler, racing yesterday morning.
A story most telling of the life-long friendships the sport of rowing inspires, Chalupa is rowing here as a birthday present to a good friend, one who supported him when he was rowing internationally in the 1990s.
He states: “We are good friends and they may think me rowing with them is an honour but for me it is just friendship. It is not an honour when it is a pleasure for me. In my crew, there are people that helped and supported me when I was rowing internationally so I am happy to do this for them.”
Despite only training five times together in the quadruple sculls, the fit crew from VK Slavia Praha and DUKLA Praha Rowing Clubs, finished second in their race.
“I don’t think I like racing anymore too much!” Chalupa joked. "Still, I love everything about rowing. It is the sport that is closest to me. I am a man who loves nature, a man who loves sport and this is rowing. I still row for health and for my condition. It’s the most suitable sport for me.”
Chalupa works as a boatbuilder and repairman in a rowing club and has the opportunity to row with the masters rowers from this club three times a week.
“Masters rowing is a social event. People don’t come here just to race, but also to meet friends and meet people all over the world. It is the biggest masters regatta and it is a great opportunity.”
“Rowing is an ideal sport. You can really push yourself in competition and then of course it will get harder as you get older. But you can also row recreationally and you can keep rowing for a very long time. It is good for the blood circulation, for the body and for general health.”
Chalupa made his senior international rowing debut in 1989 at the World Rowing Championships in Bled, Slovenia where he won a silver medal in the men’s single sculls. After this year, he won a further four World Rowing Championship silver medals, three World Rowing Championship bronze medals and the Olympic silver medal at the 1992 Olympic Rowing Regatta in Barcelona, Spain, in the men’s single sculls. Chalupa retired in 2009 and was awarded the Thomas Keller Medal earlier this year for his dedication to rowing.
"For me, the Thomas Keller Medal was my gold medal. The highlight of my rowing career though was the Olympic silver medal. The period from 1989 to 1992 was my most successful.”
Chalupa has fond memories of Duisburg regatta course. In 1989, to qualify for the World Rowing Championship team, Chalupa had to win the Czech National Rowing Trials, win Duisburg Regatta, show his speed by finishing in under seven minutes. Up against Chalupa was the mighty Thomas Lange.
He remembers his success here: “I won the Duisburg Regatta and beat Thomas Lange. At this time he was number one.”
A new single sculler from the Czech Republic is making his mark on the international field as Chalupa once did – Ondrej Synek. Synek won a silver medal at the 2008 and 2012 Olympic Rowing Regattas, and was crowned World Rowing Champion in 2010.
From one champion to another, Chalupa said: “I am good friends with Ondrej and am happy he came to follow the good sculling tradition. We also have Mirka in the women’s single sculls. It took a while for more to come through, and for a while I was the only one, but I am very happy for him.”