International Rowing

"It’s on home waters" - an insight into Great Britain’s Olympic Dream

In Beijing 2008, Great Britain surged into the fore as the world’s leading rowing nation. There is no doubt that they have a reputation and a recipe for success. With the Olympics 174 days away, what will some of the world’s most successful coaches do, and in particular, that of Great Briatin's coaches?

The Men

Jurgen Grobler has coached an Olympic Gold Medal at every games since 1972! In 1991 he arrived from the former German Democratic Republic where he took over as Leander Club’s Chief Coach. A year later, he joined British Rowing as the Chief Coach for Men. During this time he has personally coached GB gold medal crews in each of the five Olympic Games: Barcelona (’92) and Atlanta (’96) with the pair of Steven Redgrave and Matt Pinset. Later, in Sydney (’00) they went onto win the 4- with Matt Pinset going onto Athens in 2004 to win yet another gold in the M4-.

In 2008, the Beijing Olympic Games saw the M4- of Pete Reed, Andrew Triggs Hodge, Tom James and Steve Williams win gold under the watchful eye of Jurgen Grobler.

Modest to the core, he likes to downplay his part in it all. "If they win it's them and, if they lose, it's me”. Yet there is no doubt, Great Britain’s recipe for success, and that of their rowers, lies in the hands of Grobler.

Much speculation about what boat class Grobler will target for the London Olympics. In 2011, the pair of Reed and Hodge lost by 1.5 seconds to the New Zealand Pair of Eric Murray and Hamish Bond. However on closer analysis, the GB pair not only recorded the fastest overall 500m, but were faster in the last two 500m segments of the race! So, maybe, if they can hold the New Zealand pair in the first 1000m, they could better them in the 2nd 1000m? An option for Grobler, or is the risk too great? Reed and Hodge are impressive athletes. That said, so are Murray and Bond.

A more likely option lies in shifting the pair into an already successful M4-. The GB M4- has already proven that they can are a successful unit where in 2009 and 2011, they won gold at the World Championship. If Reed and Hodge are moved into the 4-, the knock-on would only strengthen the eight which lost to Germany by 2 seconds in Bled.

The men’s sculling team will no doubt have some interesting changes. Alan Campbell won a bronze medal in Bled (’11), 5 seconds behind an ever dominant and impressive World Champion Mahe Drysdale, who in turn has unfinished business after falling ill in Bejing. There has been much talk about him strengthening the crew sculling boats.

The M2x of Matthew Wells and Marcus Bateman were over 8 seconds behind Nathan Cohen and Joseph Sullivan, having previously won silver in Karapiro. The M4x were no doubt disappointed with their performance in Bled where they failed to make the A-Final.

This decision as, as illustrated in the most recent Rowing & Regatta Magazine lies in Jurgen Grobler’s hands, and his alone! Too many dreams rest on this decision for it to be any other way.

The Women

Paul Thompson joined the GB team in 2001 and was appointed as the Lead Coach of the Women for the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens where, under his guidance, produced three medal boats. After 2004, Paul was promoted to Chief Coach for the Women and Lightweights.

At the 2007 World Championships in Munich, Paul Thompson’s quad won gold, and he was awarded International Rowing Federation Coach of 2007 while the quad was awarded female crew of the year.

In 2008, he coached the women’s quadruple scull to a silver medal. Furthermore, there was a silver in the pair and the bronze in the double.  This was a major breakthrough for the GB Women’s team who’s first Olympic medal was in 2000.

Although there has not been as much speculation as to which boat class Paul will choose as the lead boat, Paul has a number of options available to him. The Double Scull with Anna Watkin’s and Katherine Grainger won by just over a second over Australia’s Kerry Hore and Kim Crow in Bled (‘11), who, a year earlier were beaten by  nearly 6 seconds at Karapiro Lake (’10). Will Kerry Hore and Kim Crow continue to close the gap? Or will Paul look into another option, the W4x, where in 2010, they won in Karapiro by over 2 seconds.

Paul also has interesting decisions to make regarding the W2- and the W8+. Will he strengthen the W8+ with members of the sculling team, a boat which has in recent years been closing the gap on the ever dominant Americans who only narrowly beat the Canadians by 0.7 seconds and the 4th selected British by 2.4 seconds.

The Lightweights:

Darren Whiter has one focus, the lightweight men’s double scull! In 2008 he coached Zac Purchase and Mark Hunter to a gold medal at the Beijing Olympic Games. This was Great Britain’s first ever lightweight Olympic Medal.

Mark Hunter has recently been awarded Olympic Athlete of the year for 2011 by the British Olympic Association. Zac Purchase too is a man who needs very little introduction having won numerous world championship medals.

Together the duo are formidable double with a total of 8 World Championship medals and a 2008’s Olympic gold medallists. However the NZL double of Storm Uru and Peter Taylor will no doubt look to make up the 0.3 seconds difference in Bled.

Great Britain:

Under the David Tanner’s management, there is no doubt that the target for the Olympic Games is to ensure Great Britain stay on top of the medal table as they did in Bejing 2008. It is rumoured that GB rowing has been offered the highest budget, well beyond any other GB sport for this Olympic games. No stone will be left unturned when Great Britain race on home waters in their quest for gold.   



The German Engine

Follow German Rowing on Twitter or Facebook.
German Rowing website or watch them on Youtube.

Background to German Rowing

There is no doubt that Germany has produced some of the greatest rowers in history. As a National Rowing Federation, they have dominated the World Junior Rowing Championships, the U23 World Rowing Championships and the World Rowing Championships for many years (Albeit a tussle with Great Britain in recent years).

As a single nation, they hold the most World Rowing Championship records: GER M4- at 5:41.35, M4+ at 5:58.96, LM8+ 5:30.24, and GER W4x 6:10.80.

German's rise to rowing dominance can be traced back to Karl Adam. It was Adam (May 2, 1912, Hagen – June 18, 1976, Bad Salzuflen) who is widely regarded as the man who drove German Rowing to the its era of dominance. He was a German rowing coach considered one of the most successful and innovative of all time while also being one of the most important rowing coaches of the 20th century.

Adam's impact started in the 1950s. He was co-founder of the Ratzeburg Rowing Club in 1953 and head of the Rowing Academy there. He had never rowed or sculled before he started coaching is frankly legendary. Adam learned rowing and sculling during his studies in Sports in the late 1930s. Previously, he was a competitive boxer and became World Champion of Students in 1937.

Between 1959 and 1968, the Ratzeburg Club won seven titles at World and European Championships. In addition the eight won a gold medal at the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome, a silver medal at the 1964 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, and a gold medal at the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico.
Thomas Lange was a member of the club when he won his third Olympic medal in 1996 in the single scull, and today, is still a member of the club. 

Karl Adam's was a great innovator of rowing and training techniques. Adam's methods had a major impact on the further development of rowing. His rowing technique became known in the rowing world as the "Ratzeburg" style. Adam was the first to adapt fartlek, also known as speed play, and interval training from track (athletics) as well as heavy weight training to rowing. He pioneered a new, more efficient, oar design and was the first coach to use "bucket" or "German" rigging. (Typical rigging alternates between port and starboard rowers (e.g: PSPS / BSBS). In German rigging, two starboard (or port) rowers sit directly behind one another, e.g: PSSP / BSSB).

Between 1959 and 1967, his boats won seven titles at World and European Championships. In addition his eight won a gold medal at the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome, a silver medal at the 1964 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, and a gold medal at the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico.

The build up to the Olympic Games:

For many years every Nation looked to Germany as the top rowing nation in the world. A power shift has seen Great Britain rising to dominace achieving the top spot on the medal table at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games.  

In Bled, at the 2011 World Rowing Championships, the German men’s eight proved that they had what it took to remain on top when they won their final in Slovenia. In choppy, tail-cross wind conditions Germany continued their winning streak, relegating the British to be bridesmaids for a second year running.

Germany also had the upper hand in the women’s quadruple sculls when they finished off a very good season with a World Champion title. New Zealand came through on the very last stroke to defend their title in the women’s pair. The race was so close that it took Juliette Haigh and Rebecca Scown several minutes to realise they had won.

The German Engine: The Eight!


The German Men's Eight has surged to dominance in recent years. 

Coming into the 2011 World Rowing Championships Germany had one target in mind. Germany came into the Championships as unbeaten since 2009 and two-time World Champions. The Germans must have known that. But did it faze them? At the start Germany jumped out quickly and didn’t look back. Australia made a gallant effort and stuck closely to Germany through the first half of the race. Then Great Britain, who have shown in previous races that they may not be the fastest starters but they have an awesome finish, began to move up.

Great Britain overtook last year’s bronze medallists, Australia and tried to close on the Germans. There is, however, a new crew on the block. Canada is the reigning Olympic Champions but they have been rebuilding after a big post-Beijing crew retirement. Included in the rebuilding has been the return to the team of 2008 coxswain Brian Price and strongman Malcolm Howard. This ‘new’ crew had a really good sprint and from fourth position they were moving through the field.

The Germans, still, remained in the lead and at a 41 stroke rate they were revelling in these rocky tail wind conditions. Great Britain’s stamina earned them silver and Canada got through to bronze, denying Australia of a medal.

Eyes on the 2012 Olympics

Below, rowers from Germany eight describe the importance of an efficient rowing stroke and an efficient division of powers over the race distance of 2,000m. Videos from: Youtube: RuderTv



German crews to watch

GER M8+: World Rowing Champions (Bled 2011, 2010 and 2009): Gold

GER W4x: World Rowing Champions (Bled 2011): Gold

GER M2x: World Rowing Championships (Bled 2011): Silver

GER M4x: World Rowing Championships (Bled 2011): Silver


GER LM2x: World Rowing Championships (Bled 2011): 4th, (New Zealand 2010): Silver. 

Paralympic Events

GER IDMix4+: World Rowing Championships (Bled 2011): Silver

GER LTAMix4+: World Rowing Championships (Bled 2011 and 2010): Bronze



Its 2012!

Just 200 days ‘til London

09/01/2012 - 11:54:00 CET

As the 2012 year begins, the days continue to tick by towards July. Today marks 200 days until the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games. On 27 July the XXXth Olympiad will be officially opened. Rowing is one of the first sports to get underway at the Olympics and it starts straight away with the first races beginning at 9.30am the next day.

33 Countries qualified for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games

04/09/2011 - 17:01:00 CET

In the primary qualification regatta for the London 2012 Olympic Games’ rowing regatta, the 2011 World Rowing Championships in Bled, Slovenia saw 33 countries qualify boats.

British rowers contemplate 2012 ‘Home Games’

01/01/2012 - 10:47:00 CET

Great Britain finished the 2011 season as the top rowing country in the world. As well as winning the Samsung World Rowing Cup series, the British team topped the World Rowing Championships medal table with 10 medals from the 14 Olympic boat classes, two golds in the non-Olympic boat classes and two golds in the adaptive boat classes.

The Olympic Games: London 2012. Rowing

The Facts

Venue: Eton Dorney
Dates: Saturday 28 July – Saturday 4 August
Medal events: 14
Athletes: 550 (353 men, 197 women).

At the current Olympics the following 14 events are offered:

  • Men: Quad sculls, Double sculls, Single sculls, Eight, Coxless four, Coxless pair
  • Lightweight Men: coxless four, double sculls
  • Women: quad sculls, double sculls, single sculls, eight, coxless pair
  • Lightweight Women: double sculls

The lightweight events were threatened in 2002 when the Programme Commission of the IOC recommended that, outside of combat sports (boxing & wrestling, but not fencing, shooting, and archery) and weightlifting, there should not be weight-category events. The Executive Board overturned this recommendation and the lightweight rowing has been continued.

The non olympic boatclasses (which still compete in World Championships) are today LM1X, LM4X, LM2-, LM8+, LW1X, LW4X, W4-, and M2+

Venue: Eton Dorney

Eton Dorney Rowing Centre at Dorney Lake is a world-class venue that will be used for the Rowing events during the London 2012 Games.
The venue is a 2,200m, eight-lane rowing course with a separate return lane constructed to international standards. It is set in a 400-acre park with a nature conservation area. In 2006, it hosted the Rowing World Championships, with high praise from both competitors and spectators.

The venue’s existing facilities have been enhanced for athlete warm-up and Canoe Sprint events during the Games. These works included the installation of a new 50m-span bridge over a widened entrance to the return lake for vehicles and pedestrians.

A cut-through between the competition lake and the return lake, and a new bridge over this cut-through area have also been constructed. The new cut-through enables rowers to move between the rowing course and return lake.

To facilitate these works, the existing gravel/stone access road to the competition venue has been upgraded.



Athlete (nation) Olympics Gold Silver Bronze Total Notes
Elisabeta Lipă
Romania (ROU)
1984, 1988, 1992, 1996, 2000, 2004 5 2 1 8 20 years between first and last gold medal
Steve Redgrave
Great Britain (GBR)
1984, 1988, 1992, 1996, 2000 5 0 1 6 Gold medals in 5 straight Games, 1984 Gold in the coxed four, 1988 Gold in the pair with Andy Holmes , 1992 and 1996 Gold in the pair with Matthew Pinsent and in 2000 Gold in the coxless four
Georgeta Damian
Romania (ROU)
2000, 2004, 2008 5 0 1 6 Won the pair and the eights in both 2000 and 2004, and the pair again in 2008
Doina Ignat
Romania (ROU)
1992, 1996, 2000, 2004, 2008 4 1 1 6 Part of Romania's three-straight gold medalist eight
Viorica Susanu
Romania (ROU)
1996, 2000, 2004, 2008 4 0 1 5 Won three medals in the women's eight, and two in the pair
Matthew Pinsent
Great Britain (GBR)
1992, 1996, 2000, 2004 4 0 0 4 Four straight Olympic golds. Won with Steven Redgrave in the pair in 1992 and 1996. In the coxless four in 2000 and in 2004
Kathrin Boron
Germany (GER)
1992, 1996, 2000, 2004, 2008 4 0 1 5 Four straight Olympic golds. Bronze in her final Olympics in the Quadruple Sculls
Jack Beresford
Great Britain (GBR)
1920, 1924, 1928, 1932, 1936 3 2 0 5 First rower to win a medal at 5 straight Olympics. WWII prevented the opportunity for a sixth medal
Constanţa Burcică
Romania (ROU)
1992, 1996, 2000, 2004, 2008 3 1 1 5 Won three gold medals in the women's lightweight double sculls
Elena Georgescu
Romania (ROU)
1992, 1996, 2000, 2004, 2008 3 1 1 5 Coxswain of Romania's women's eight