World Rowing announces the 2015 Thomas Keller medal winner
For immediate release
Lausanne, 2 July 2015
FISA, the World Rowing Federation, is delighted to announce that Slovenia's Iztok Cop is the 2015 recipient of rowing's most prestigious award; the Thomas Keller Medal.
The medal signifies an outstanding career in rowing and Cop was selected ahead of an impressive list of finalists that included Rossano Galtarossa (ITA), Rob Waddell (NZL), Greg Searle (GBR), Caryn Davies (USA) and Caroline and Georgina Evers-Swindell (NZL).
Cop spent more than two decades at the top of rowing and in that time became Slovenia's most medalled rower. His remarkable career began when he became a junior World Champion, racing as part of the Yugoslavian rowing team. By the age of 19, Cop had already made the senior national team and raced to a silver medal at the 1991 World Rowing Championships in the men's pair. This was a special moment for Cop as although he rowed for Yugoslavia, Slovenia had recently gained independence and hence Slovenia recognised this medal as their first World Championship medal.
Cop then went on to compete as part of Slovenia’s Olympic Team at the 1992 Olympic Games. Cop's bronze medal in the men's pair at these Games was the first ever Olympic medal for Slovenia. This propelled Cop into the limelight and helped encourage rowing in his country.
In 1995 Cop became a World Champion which was not only his first at a senior level but also a first for Slovenia - a world title in an Olympic sport. This time Cop did it in the men's single sculls indicating his ease of switching boat classes. Cop then went through what he called a difficult period. He finished fourth three times. Cop, however, found his way back to the medals podium and in 1999, along with Luka Spik in the men's double sculls, they took the World Championship title.
At the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games, Cop and Spik became Olympic Champions. Once again this was a first for his country. Over the next few years of Cop's career he moved between the single and the double winning World Championship medals and then taking silver in the double at the Athens 2004 Olympic Games.
At the 2005 World Rowing Championships Cop raced to gold in the men's double and silver in the men's quadruple sculls. This achievement was recognised with Cop and Spik receiving the 2005 World Rowing Male Crew of the Year. Cop continued to compete through to London 2012 at the age of 40. At the London Olympics, Cop and Spik won bronze, capping off a fantastic career.
Cop's friend and competitor, Olympic Champion Olaf Tufte of Norway stated this about Cop, “Iztok is maybe the best rower and sculler I have ever met. He is not the biggest, or strongest, but he has the feeling of how to move the boat. He has a very hard fighting head.”
The Thomas Keller Medal will be presented to Cop on Saturday, 11 July 2015 during the World Rowing Cup finals in Lucerne, Switzerland. He will receive the medal from Dominik Keller, son of the late Thomas Keller, FISA's former President, at a gala dinner.
To view the list of previous Thomas Keller Medal winners, please click here.
About the Thomas Keller Medal
The Thomas Keller Medal is the highest distinction in the sport of rowing. It recognises an exceptional international rowing career as well as exemplary sportsmanship and legendary aspect. The award was named after the late President of FISA, Thomas Keller (Thomi). Born in 1924, Keller was elected President of FISA in 1958, at the age of 34 and was then the youngest-ever president of an international sports federation.
Following the 1988 Olympics, Thomi Keller spontaneously awarded the FISA Medal of Honour to Peter-Michael Kolbe and Pertti Karppinen to commemorate one of the greatest rivalries in the history of the sport and recognising their exceptional talent and sportsmanship. This shaped the idea of the Thomas Keller Medal which was initiated by the Keller family following Thomi's passing in 1989. It was first awarded to the great Norwegian oarsman Alf Hansen in 1990.