Video feature: Halliday's Seville perfection
World Rowing’s video library is available to everyone. Have a look back through the archives and watch the final of the 2002 World Rowing Championships lightweight women’s double sculls. In the stroke seat of the winning Australian boat sat Amber Halliday. Halliday, a 22 year old, along with partner Sally Causby, had won the World Cup in Munich earlier in the season.
“Sally and I had only ever rowed in the lightweight quad and we knew that the lightweight double was a step up being an Olympic event. Through the heats and semis and at the World Cup in Germany we had never raced the German double (the World Champions) with Claudia Blasberg. It was nerve-wracking knowing that this was the first time we would race them.”
Here are Halliday’s thoughts while watching the 2002 World Rowing Championships lightweight women’s double sculls final.
The start: “I’ve always been quite calm in the start. A lot of people don’t realise how quiet it is. You could easily hear a pin drop here. We knew that we weren’t the fastest starters but our goal was to be in striking distance at the first 500m.”
“We came on par at the 500m and that was not unexpected for us as it’s what we planned. We didn’t panic. If we had been far behind we wouldn’t have known as we were in our ‘tunnel’.”
Were you aware of your position at the 500?
“Well, only vaguely. You have to have well developed peripheral vision because you don’t want to look around much because that can upset the balance of the boat. I used my peripheral vision at the 500m and saw that we were on par.
The brilliant thing about rowing with Sally was that we were great mates and complemented each other. I could bring the boat home at the end and Sally was strong through the middle of the race. So I had to go with her there.”
Did the race go to plan?
“One of my early coaches described the textbook race to me and this was how this race played out. We didn’t spend too much energy at the start but we were within striking distance at the 500m and moved through them (Germany) at the 1000m and pushed away slightly at the end. It was like a textbook race – being able to move through the field in the middle and then have enough to maintain it through to the end.”
Second half of the race
“Because the race was all going to plan I don’t remember thinking much. At the 750m to go on the Seville course there’s a big bridge. I remember talking to James (Tomkins) and Drew (Ginn) and they had had their final the day before and not done as well as expected. They said, ‘you’ve got to be ahead at that bridge.’
At the bridge we saw Germany and knew we were ahead. I was just trying to stay calm. We were also aware that it was building towards a strong tail wind and it was a bit rough, so we didn’t want to make a mistake. That was more important to me. We did one of our calmest finishes.”
What about when the German’s started to come back on you?
“We were expecting that and we knew that they had a strong finish. For us it was just about avoiding making a mistake. We saw that we had enough distance to remain calm and not make a mistake because we could lose it there.”
After the finish
“It was a bit unbelievable. We had a bit of an inferiority complex coming from the lightweight quad, but I now believe that rowing the quad was the best preparation that we had for rowing the double.”
“I have such fond memories of Seville because they made a mistake with our hotel booking and we ended up staying at a luxurious hotel right on the course. So in the heats when our race was delayed – and ended up being a five hour delay – it was the longest time that we’d had between weigh-in and racing. It was a real luxury to be able to go back to the hotel and take advantage of the buffet breakfast. A very fond memory.
We had great respect for our opposition, especially the German boat. To win a World Championships was one thing but to beat them (Germany) made it more special.”