in mind the aim of improving and broadening
rowing’s base to achieve better results at the
Olympic Games. Sports funding in Australia comes
from the government and is based on medals
won at the Olympics so a focus on the Games is
vital for the sport.
for the next four years. “They are the target boats
for the talent identification programme,” says
Shakespeare. “They provide a good blend of scullers
and sweep rowers and should provide enough
feed for the Olympic team.”
The results this year surprised Shakespeare. Four of
the boats medalled. The junior women’s four won
gold, the men’s coxed four and women’s quad
took silver, the men’s four won a bronze and only
the men’s quad missed out finishing ninth overall.
This year at the World Rowing Junior Championships
in Brive-la-Gaillarde, the Australian team that was
sent was picked for their long-term potential
with the goal of starting to develop talent for the
2016 Olympic Games. Rather than looking at the
performance of the athletes, the team was chosen
by using the talent identification characteristics –
like height, arm span, body mass and ergometer
test. Thus the fastest boat at the time of selection
was not necessarily the one that made the team.
Shakespeare gives the example of one of the
athletes in the junior men’s quad finishing ninth
at trials but who was still selected for the team
because he appeared to be a good investment
for the future. With that in mind Shakespeare said
there were no expectations for winning medals
Shakespeare says the women’s boats especially
have good prospects. The silver medal quad was
selected, according to Shakespeare, more on the
basis of the athletes fitting together well physically.
Shakespeare knows that using these unorthodox
methods of selection means going out on a limb
and he admits, as with any new process, much
discussion and opposition has resulted. But, he
says, they will try and keep up the plan.
Thanks to Cora Zillich for article contribution.
Five boats were selected for Brive and the Australian
high performance plan is to send these same five
boats to the World Rowing Junior Championships