Double or nothing
“when i line up, i’m not there to win.
i’m there to wipe the floor.”
In the aftermath of Athens, Scott Brennan
wrote a note to himself. Next time would be
different. For himself and double sculls
partner DavidCrawshay, Beijing was to
remedy the disappointment of their Olympic
debut where they finished seventh in the
quad – and it did. In resounding fashion, the
Australians blitzed the men’s double sculls
field, leading all the way, to claim Olympic
gold ahead of Estonia and Great Britain.
After a successful domestic campaign, Brennan
and Crawshay gained selection as Australia’s
double scull, in 2007. Finishing eighth at the
World Championships, they qualified the boat
for Beijing. Despite missing the A Final by
0.49 seconds, the pair relished the tight racing.
”Beijing wasn’t a clean slate. I wanted to
remember what I felt before as inspiration to
make sure we did things properly this time,”
says Brennan, 25, from Tasmania.
”If someone asks why you race, it is for that
tight, competitive atmosphere. It’s challenging,
but it’s really enjoyable,” says Brennan.
” They should have had a gold medal in 2004
[in the quadruple sculls]. They won the pre-Olympic Regatta in Lucerne by two lengths.
They killed everybody.”
”After Athens I couldn’t handle just going to
the Olympic Games. I wanted to race with
the best guy, with the best chance. It was the
double or nothing.’”
However, in the mind of Coach Rhett Ayliffe,
the crew had the potential to blow the field
open. Brennan was the under- 23 World
Champion in the single sculls, in 2003.
Meanwhile, Crawshay had been Australia’s
premier sculler of the last Olympiad.
” They had the potential to do what they did
this time, last time.”
Open, honest communication between coach
and crew, was how this potential was realised.
Crawshay shared this sentiment. The 29-year-old
Victorian admitted his first Olympic experience
caused him great angst. Training together from
late 2006 – prior to national team selections –
the duo committed themselves to the double.
”Up until then , I was racing to get onto
the national team. This time I had the specific
aim of getting into the double with Scott and
racing in Beijing,” says Crawshay. ” That’s what
it was going to be.”
© 2008 FRED DUFOUR/AFP/Getty Images
”It was a close event, because no one was
dominating it. I had a crew that could,” says
Ayliffe, an Australian representative in the
men’s double sculls at the 1995 World Rowing
Championships, in Finland.
”Scott’s got a relentless attitude to making
changes. I thought he was just grumpy,” says
Crawshay. ”Instead I was possibly too nice.
I had to learn not to sugarcoat things.” >>
Australia’s David Crawshay (l)
and Scott Brennan celebrate
their gold medal during the
medal ceremony at the 2008
Olympic Games in Beijing.