Olympic belief building for SA rowing squad

If ever one needed an example of momentum then look no further than South Africa’s rowing team.

While the idea of momentum is one of the most overused buzzwords in sport, the oarsmen and women have managed to keep their trajectory on an upward curve since that memorable day in 2012 when the men’s lightweight four claimed gold at the Olympic Games in London.

Since then the squad, administrators and head coach Roger Barrow have worked hard to harness the power of that achievement and it’s paid off with a record five boats earning berths for the Games in Rio de Janiero in nine week’s time.

“Once one guy wins the others believe they can,” Barrow said this week.

“They start training hard, putting studies on hold and their life on hold to try and realise a dream. More the London Games gave belief to everybody. From a  coaching and scientific point of view we’re probably also doing things a little bit better,” he added.

The fifth berth was locked up by the men’s four at the European and Final Olympic Qualification Regatta in Lucerne last week and Barrow admits that there is lots to be positive about in the build-up to the Olympic regatta.

“We took a lot of confidence and belief from Lucerne. The results were in the right direction of what we’re wanting and we’re seeing we’re close to the medals,” said Barrow but he did state that his athletes won’t be resting on their laurels in the next few weeks.

“The team is confident but we know we have a lot of work to do now. It’s keeping calm and making sure we stay healthy. We can’t miss any days of training.

“We’ve got eight weeks now. A good eight week block of training at altitude and then getting into those finals come Rio. The guys will train hard, we know that,” said Barrow.

The platform was laid by those four rowers, John Smith, Sizwe Ndlovu, Mathew Brittain and James Thompson, when they edged out their competitors at Eton Dorney four years ago. Now it’s up to those taking part in Rio to continue taking South African rowing to new heights.

“Belief and confidence goes a long way,” Barrow said. Let’s hope he’s right.

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