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Barrow ‘happy but realistic’ after World Cup success
- Updated: April 20, 2016
Two gold medals and two bronze medals at a World Cup Regatta would surely be enough to make most coaches smile?
But Roger Barrow, national rowing coach based at Tuks/HPC, is not your regular coach.
Barrow is the ultimate perfectionist, on a never-ending quest to find ways to enable his rowing crews to be that little bit faster, putting them in contention to win a medal at the Olympic Games in Rio.
As such, he’s not easily pleased.
This weekend at the World Cup in Varese, Italy, James Thompson and John Smith (Tuks/HPC) won the men’s lightweight double sculls and Kate Christowitz and Lee-Ann Persse (Tuks/HPC) were victorious in the women’s pairs final. Shaun Keeling and Lawrence Brittain (Tuks/HPC) won bronze in the men’s pair final and Ursula Grobler and Kirsten McCann (Tuks/HPC) won bronze in the lightweight women’s double sculls final.
Asked for his thoughts on the results Barow replied: ‘Yes I ‘m certainly happy. But it should be remembered that at the Olympic training squad we set ourselves high standards, so it was expected of all the crews to compete in the finals.’
Barrow emphasised that it’s important to be realistic about what happened in Italy.
‘Remember not all the top international crews were competing so I consider the performance by Shaun and Lawrence as the best of the South African crews because they were competing against international crews ranked from second to sixth in the world.
‘As coach I have to admit that there is still a lot to be done before I’ll be satisfied that our rowers will be in contention to win medals at the Olympics. Most of the crews made some technical errors in their races but, considering it was the first time this season they competed internationally, this was to be expected.’
The Olympic training squad will be training at the Katse Dam in the Lesotho Highlands for the next three weeks as part of their preparation for the second World Cup Regatta (27-29 May) in Lucerne, Switzerland.
One of the main questions rowing fans want to be answered is when the final selection for the Games will be done. ‘That decision will be made after I have evaluated the results in Lucerne,’ said Barrow.
Barrow is quietly confident that, in spite of the fact that the men’s fours only finished sixth in their final over the weekend, they are good enough to qualify for the Games.
In Italy the crew seemed to blow hot and cold, finishing last in their heats in a time of 6min 18sec. They then won the repechage in 5:50, only to finish last again in the final in a time of 6:22. But the crew’s time of 5:50 in the repechage compares well with the world best time of 5:37.
‘The final Olympic qualifier starts on 22 May. After this weekend I’m confident that the men’s fours can become the fifth crew to go to Rio. I will admit that they made some costly mistakes over the weekend.
‘The big difference in the times the fours crews rowed can be ascribed to illness. However, when it mattered they were able to put a 5:50 race together proving that they have the speed to compete against the best. It should be remembered that it is still a new crew in the process of establishing a working dynamics in the boat.’
Picture of Barrow in mentoring mode, courtesy of Reg Caldecott