OK readers, let’s hear who you are picking for Olympic rowing gold in a few weeks? There were some surprises in the recent Munich World Cup, and there were some notable absences of crews that chose to train through instead of race. Here’s my unscientific picks. In general I think the British and the Kiwis are poised to clean up, with the US and Germany probably taking home less hardware than usual. New Zealand in particular looks incredibly strong for their size.
M1X: Mahe Drysdale. He will come back from getting hit by a car, the Kiwi program is so strong and deep, and he is at the top of it.
W1X: Ekaterina Karsten. I have to vote for the 40-year old
M2-: NZL – the Murray/Bond pair is unstoppable – 5 second margin in Munich. I wish the best for FRA and GBR but good luck.
M4-: Very tough. I give the edge to AUS based on smoothness and flow, which will count for a lot under pressure. I would also be happy if GBR took it. This one is going to be a photo finish.
M8+: I am pulling for GBR. C’mon mates win it in front of the home crowd!
W8+: USA – we can get Canada, come on ladies!
The Munich World Cup was the last international regatta before the Olympics, and here is some great video of the Men’s straight four, which is one of the most hotly contested events. I have been following Drew Ginn from Australia via his blog, and I also love to see Great Britain exercise their traditional strength in this event. It’s amazing to see these crews log a time that many college eights in the US would envy. Cheers to the Aussies – you look very very smooth. And I hope that Mahe Drysdale recovers from his bike accident and is there to challenge the field in London.
This is a simply incredible video of the Australian lightweight men’s eight winning the world championships in a photo finish with Italy, with end-to-end audio from inside the boat of the coxswain’s calls. This level of transparency is astounding, and gives a view of what it’s like to row at the highest level in the world. Crossfitters, understand that these guys are in the 150-lb. range, and they are racing 2000m at a stroke rate that never drops below 38. I love the water-level video showing just how fast they are going, and I love the setup for the move they take at 3:44 into the video when you can actually hear them set it up, take the move, and see them eat into Italy’s lead in real time. It’s amazing that they had enough gas in the tank to be able to do that 2/3 of the way into the race.
Thanks to Drew Ginn, one of the world’s all-time greatest rowers (3 Olympic golds, 5 World Championship golds), for the level of transparency he delivers in his blog about what it takes to be an elite athlete. Check out this dude’s split times for a 2K piece and eat a slice of humble pie…this piece would have easily won last year’s CRASH-B. This is why I always caution the Crossfit community about lightly throwing around the terms “elite” and “fittest,” because there really is no comparison with some of the specialist elites in specific disciplines.
I was fortunate enough to visit Australia several times before the 2000 Olympics in Sydney. I received the most gracious invite you could imagine from Geoffrey Stewart and Tim McLaren to borrow a single out of UTS while I was there. I was basically nobody, they were the best in the world at the time, and they invited me in like it was no big deal. I will never forget it, and I was also lucky enough to see the famous Ginn/Tompkins pair race on the Nepean River before injury derailed them.
I remember being amazed at the time standards the Australian team was shooting for, and the percentage gain in human performance they thought was possible year over year in the sport. I asked if there was a typo on the time standards sheet because it was so much more aggressive than anything I had seen in the US at the time. While the US has a deep talent pool and should always be able to find fast athletes, I still believe that the Australian system for cultivating and selecting rowing talent is the best in the world, and I always love to see the Aussies win. I wish Tim McLaren the best now that he is coaching in the US.
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