Created in 1990, the Thomas Keller Medal award celebrates athletes who have had an outstanding career in rowing, have shown exemplary sportsmanship and technical mastery of the sport as well as symbolise a legendary aspect both in and outside of their rowing career. Following public nominations, the shortlist was decided by FISA’s council and commission members. These are, in alphabetical order:
- Caroline (Meyer) and Georgina Evers-Swindell (Earl), New Zealand
- Caryn Davies, United States
- Greg Searle, Great Britain
- Iztok Cop, Slovenia
- Rob Waddell, New ZealandRossano Galtarossa, Italy
Caroline (Meyer) and Georgina Evers-Swindell (Earl) – New Zealand (pictured above)
Identical twins Caroline and Georgina retired in 2008 as two-time Olympic Champions. At Beijing they successfully defended their title in the women’s double sculls in the closest finish of that Olympic regatta. This was the first time in the history of Olympic rowing that the women’s double sculls title had been successfully defended.
Their success began in 2002 with a World Champion title and, as the Evers-Swindell’s success continued to grow, they inspired many New Zealanders to start rowing. They added two more World Champion titles along the way making them the dominant force in the women’s double.
They received the World Rowing Female Crew of the Year Award twice for their achievements. The twins’ impact on sport in New Zealand was recognised when they were awarded the Athlete of the Decade in 2010 at New Zealand’s sports awards.
Caryn Davies – United States
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Caryn Davies is described as the epitome of the scholar-athlete. Having earned a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from Harvard University in 2005 and a Doctor of Law from Columbia University in 2013 she also became an Olympic Champion twice and a four-time World Champion between 2002 and 2012.
She has stroked the USA women’s eight repeatedly since its winning streak began in 2006 and helped the boat set two World Best Times. Now studying for an MBA at Oxford University, Great Britain, Davies recently stroked the women’s Oxford boat to victory in the 2015 Oxford-Cambridge Boat Race.
Davies is described as having helped many young rowers succeed at the college, national and international level.
Greg Searle – Great Britain
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Between 1990 and 2000, Great Britain’s Greg Searle raced at three Olympic Games and at seven World Rowing Championships. During this time he won two Olympic medals and five World Championship medals in a variety of sweep boat classes, from the eight to the four to the coxed pair, as well as in one sculling event, the men’s single sculls.
He and brother Jonathan became famous for racing to gold twice in the coxed pair ahead of the legendary Abbagnale Italian brothers – once at the Barcelona 1992 Olympic Games and then again at the 1993 World Rowing Championships.
Following a fourth-place finish in the men’s pair at the Sydney Games, Searle retired from the sport for nine years, only to come back and compete at the highest level of competition in his late thirties. Winning yet another two World Championship medals and one Olympic medal between the ages of 37 and 40, he put a final end to his rowing career at the London 2012 Olympic Games, 20 years after competing at his first Olympic Games in 1992.
Iztok Cop – Slovenia
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Slovenian sporting legend Iztok Cop had a career that spanned more than two decades and included six Olympic Games and 16 World Rowing Championships. Cop’s success began as a junior when he rowed for Yugoslavia. He won two Junior World Championship titles, the first in 1989, then again in 1990.
At the Barcelona 1992 Olympic Games, Cop became the first Olympic medallist for the newly-independent Slovenia in the men’s pair. At the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games, he and partner Luka Spik became Olympic Champions in the men’s double sculls. This partnership continued through the next three Olympic Games with Cop adding silver and bronze to his Olympic collection. Of the 12 World Championship medals that Cop won, four were gold.
Cop has been described as the glue amongst his fellow athletes. He is said to have always respected his opponents and being graceful in defeat as well as honouring those better than himself.
Rob Waddell – New Zealand
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Rob Waddell was a successful single sculler who won Olympic gold in 2000 and two World Championship golds in 1998 and 1999 while having a heart condition.
In 1993, when Waddell noticed that he was having trouble with an irregular heartbeat, he re-directed his focus to the men’s single as he did not want to let his team-mates down during a race.
Waddell was been named Chef de Mission for the New Zealand Teams for the 2014 Commonwealth Games and also has the role for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. Rob is currently a senior member of New Zealand’s Americas Cup sailing team.
Rossano Galtarossa – Italy
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Italy’s Rossano Galtarossa had a rowing career that began in 1989 as a junior and finished in 2012. During this time he competed at ten World Rowing Championships (medalling eight times and becoming a World Champion four times), and at five Olympic Games (winning four Olympic medals including one gold).
Galtarossa was a sculling master, with the double and quad being his focus. In Italy he was called “Cavalieri Delle Acque” and “The Captain” by the other members of the National Team. In 2012, at the age of 41, he was the spare rower at the London 2012 Olympic Games.
Since November 2012 Galtarossa has been a member of the Italian Rowing Federation Board.
A few anecdotes demonstrating his character include him saving the life of a man in Lake Varese and working in the mud when his club was hit by a flood back in 2010 to help save as much as possible.
The winner will be announced in July at the 2015 World Rowing Cup III in Lucerne, Switzerland. During the award ceremony, an 18-carat gold medal will be bestowed by Dominik Keller, the son of FISA’s former president Thomas Keller, to the winner.
Former winners include Vaclav Chalupa (CZE), James Tomkins (AUS), Kathrin Boron (GER), Eskild Ebbesen (DEN). Last year’s recipient of the Thomas Keller Medal was Drew Ginn of Australia. For a full list of winners, please click here. http://www.worldrowing.com/athletes/thomas-keller-medal