Thanks for writing these articles! It's great to keep updated with SA rowing during the process, not only when there is a regatta!
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Olympian Smith’s ‘big’ plans for Tokyo 2020
- Updated: September 16, 2016
Two-time Olympic rower, John Smith, has never been shy to take on big challenges therefore it should be no surprise that he has decided to move up a weight category as part of his preparation for the 2020 Games in Tokyo.
Smith (Tuks/HPC), who won gold medals at the Olympics as well as the World Championships as a lightweight rower, readily admits that he is in for a tough challenge. Not only will he have to gain 20kg, he also needs to become much stronger.
One of the reasons why Smith decided to make a ‘career change’ is that he is 1.87 metres tall and it has become more difficult for him to keep his weight under 70kg over the last two years.
‘I was beginning to feel like a boxer who is forever battling to make it at the weigh-in. To be honest, I never felt at my strongest at 70kg but that was the weight I had to race at. You cannot change the number.’
According to Smith very few rowers in the world have successfully managed to make the transition from lightweight to ‘heavyweight’.
‘I know of only one or two rowers who were able to do so but that is not going to stop me from trying to make it work. I understand the challenge and believe that if I put my mind to it nothing will stop me from becoming a competitive rower in the heavier category.
‘The problem about moving up a weight category is that there are no limits. Everybody who competes as a lightweight weighs 70kg. This means the playing field is level as far as power output is concerned. In the heavier category there is no limit. This means that rowers can really bulk up and become stronger and more powerful.
‘I already managed to gain 12kg since the Olympic Games in Rio. My goal is to weigh 90kg, but it is not only about getting heavier, you have to become stronger as well. I am doing a lot of strength and conditioning exercises in the gymnasium at the moment. I need to become stronger to be able to up my power outage when rowing.
‘The one thing that counts in my favour is my very sound technique which enables me to row quite efficiently.
‘But it will be a tough challenge to crack a seat in one of our two heavyweight crews. Lawrence Brittain and Shaun Keeling won silver in the men’s pairs at the Olympic Games, while Vince Breet, Jake Green, Jonty Smith and David Hunt just missed out on winning the bronze medal in the men’s fours.’
As a lightweight Smith was part of the men’s lightweight fours that won the gold medal at the 2012 Olympic Games in London. At the 2014 World Championships Smith and James Thompson won the gold medal in the lightweight men’s double sculls.