This past week has been a very sporty week on a couple of fronts. Training has been pretty full and I also had climbing testing, but also the Australian rowing championships were held in Adelaide. I am always very interested every year to see where the sport is at and particularly my hutchins school crew whom I help coach when In aus and of course my many friends still involved with the sport.
For me the nationals always revolved around the final Sunday which held the interstate races. My race was the lightweight 4 which I was fortunate enough to win the 3years that I rowed in it before changing to cycling. This year my old crew mates sam beltz (currently the dominant lightweight rower in the country after winning 4 national titles last week) and Tom Gibson teamed with Anthony edwards and Blair tunavish to defend the title they won in 2010. The other race of note and the premier race of the regatta, the king’s cup open men’s interstate 8+, was one for the 3rd year in row by New South Wales. I was very happy to see this as my best mate Matty Ryan and I often say that at the nationals Sunday is the only day that matters, if you win on Sunday then you have had the perfect regatta. Also the party following Sundays racing is always huge, massive in fact and is even more enjoyably when you win on Sunday.
This year was perhaps of a little more interest than others due to the closer involvement I have had with my old school hutchins over the past few months. Following the tragic passing of the great Roger Drummond in November who had literally changed the face of the schools rowing programme, I knew as his assistant it was imperative that we try and continue his legacy and maintain the system for the boys to reach their potential. Rog managed to turn the hutchins boat club into potentially the most dominant force in junior boys rowing in the country within only 18months. He certainly was a man who wanted to see kids succeed though no other reason than knowing how great it made #the feel when they achieved things that they previously did not realise was possible. In light of this there was only two men whom I felt could bring the required skills to the school to help continue this legacy, one was bob bleakly, my coach from the Olympics and coach of multible world champions and Olympic medalists. The other was the number one coach on Tasmania and arguably currently the number one coach in the country and the world in John Driessan. John also an Olympic coach and coach of multible olympic and world champions. With John already giving all his time to rowing and bob in rowing retirement I first approached bob whom all but accepted the position until a final small hurdle which kept him in queensland for another 12months. I immediately rang john and explained the importance of this great group of boys deserving the best coaching possible and john being john, a very very generous man, said he would love to look after the boys. 3months on and John has taken the boys to Gold medals in the U19 8+ and U19 1x, Silver in the schoolboy 8+ which is the most prestigious race for school rowing in the country, and also a bronze and 5th in the U19 1x. Along the way the boys dominated the state rowing season from U19 though to senior level and are now the number one force in junior boys rowing in the country. These boys are very lucky, not only do they have john whom I honestly regard as one of the best in the world guiding them through the technique of rowing, they also have an entire team of support staff ensuring no stone was left unturned. The very much un heralded Ron nylander whom prepares there weights programme is perhaps the back bone to the boys physical preparation and monitors the boys every step and movement in the gym to ensure they are on track. If there not right he knows simply by looking at his stop watch or little note pad, and also if they are going super strong he is aware of the exact moment to push the boys a little more to get the most out of them. Just to add andother string to his already very long bow, ron is also an expert on nutrition and I also consult hime during the off season for my physical strength work in the gym. After seeing his work with the boys I was desperate to learn from him also. Being fortunate enough to be involved with the institute system since I was 17, I have always had access to the best training resources. I also knew that this gave me an advantage if you choose to make the most of these resources. Infact when I was at the Australian institute of sport in 2004, Barry Barns the residence coordinator and former coach of our national basketball team told me that the institute was like a tube of toothpaste, the more you squeeze it the more you will get lout of it. So aslong as you have the tube you can squeeze it and the results will follow, this small but invaluable piece of advice was certainly a crucial factor in me making the 2004 Olympic team. So back to the boys, the school and initially through the tireless work of roger gave the boys great resources and they certainly put there heads down, believed in the process and this week in Adelaide enjoyed the rewards of this dedication. For me it was a very enjoyable process to watch from the outside, I know how good a coach john is and also rons expertise is second to none in his field. Though in 9 very determined young men and the result would always take care of itself. To have this type of structure and support and confidence in a programme is something most athletes would give there left and right arm for and these kids simply have to turn up to there school boatshed and gym. Roger Drummond certainly left a lasting legacy at the hutchins school boat club which will reward many young boys for years to come. So I big big thankyou to Johny and ron for getting boys just right at the right time and a big big thankyou to the school and the boys for allowing me to be involved with such a great team.