Compe Ti Tion
Antosova then spent a year (autumn 2006
– May 2007) attending university in the
United States, at the University of Southern
California, leaving sculling behind to stroke
the college women’s eight. “I was worried
about forgetting sculling,” says Varekova.
“Fortunately it was not a problem after I
came back home.”
the fairness of rowing. “Do not judge people
according to their appearance,” says Varekova
adding, “Some people think that the taller
the rower, the better.”
© 2006 Getty Images / Christopher Lee
Varekova says the appeal of the sport is also
in its fairness. “Every result we have (win or
loss) is up to us and not up to an umpire. An
umpire cannot influence our result.”
Now, with the Olympics looming, both
athletes have moved to the same city, Prague,
where they are students. Any spare time is
used for school work. Antosova is studying
engineering and architecture while Varekova
is studying medicine. They also travel to
numerous training camps in Racice.
Antosova came to rowing after trying a
rowing machine while on summer camp.
“Our instructors said I was pretty good at it,”
remembers Antosova, “but I didn’t take them
very seriously.” A year later Antosova went to
her local rowing club and asked to start rowing.
Both of Antosova’s sisters, Jana and Lenka, row.
Jitka Antosova (l) and
Gabriela Varekova (r) of the
Czech Republic celebrate
their gold medal at the
2006 World Rowing Under
Their double magic has not come through
the conventional method of row a lot and
then row a lot more together. Until last year,
the duo lived in cities on opposite sides of
the Czech Republic (Antosova is from Decin
and Varekova from Olomouc). Varekova says,
“We had to go to our high school in our
city. Therefore we got together basically in
May each year and rowed together during
summer – approximately until August.
Which means that we practiced together for
just four months every year.”
“It is hard to schedule our time,” says Varekova,
“because school and rowing are both very
time-consuming activities. We are trying
to do everything effectively in the shortest
Moving to Prague has brought the double into
the hands of coach Tomas Kacovsky who is
better known for his charge, Mirka Knapkova.
But Antosova and Varekova say they don’t
often practice with the single sculler. “Me
and Jitka have different training plans,” says
Varekova. “Mirka is used to practicing on her
own which suits her. Sometimes it is difficult
because Mirka has some extra training camps
so our coach has to go with her.”
Varekova comes to rowing through her
family. Varekova’s older sister, Bara (now 23),
rowed. “Our parents have been very involved
in rowing too, even though they have never
rowed. So I thought I might try too. My
sister (Bara, who is currently studying in the
United States) has been my model.” Younger
sister Alexandra at 12 is already a national
When Antosova and Varekova trained
separately their progress was carefully
monitored. “We compared our results and
since we are both very competitive, we
improved our scores this way,” says Varekova.
Both athletes plan to stay in the sport.
“Because it is physiologically a very healthy
movement,” says Varekova. “Because you
can sunbathe while rowing,” adds Antosova
with a smile.
At 174cm both rowers are on the shorter
side of the sport but are firm advocates of