I have been lucky throughout my life and rowing career by a series of great coaches and mentors. Growing up in Kelowna, BC I played every sport possible and my dad spent much of his free time as the trusted and respected head coach. He instilled the value of hard work and competition while being well known for his sportsmanship.
After attending Raymer Elementary and KLO Secondary, I moved to Brentwood College for grades 11 and 12 and was introduced to the sport of rowing by legendary coach Tony Carr. Tony made rowing fun, and under his guidance I spent most of my first two years rowing in small boats cultivating my boat feel and technique.
From Brentwood, I moved on to the University of California, Berkeley and the charismatic motivator – Craig Amerkhanian. While difficult at first, Craig can inspire a group to meld and to push each other like no one I’ve ever met. He pushed me to become who I am today. Steve Gladstone was the Varsity coach at Cal and through his leadership, training program, and absolute insistence on precision we had a very successful run winning the PAC10 and US Colligate National Championships in 2000, 2001, and 2002.
After graduating from Cal, I went to Oxford University to complete my Masters while rowing for the OUBC against Cambridge in the Boat Race. Sean Bowden is the head coach at Oxford and has a much more subdued and scientific approach than my previous coaches at Cal – allowing the athletes to inject the intensity where needed. Another amazing group of guys and an unforgettable race; after 18 minutes of racing on the Thames with bends and currents and huge crowds, our Oxford 8+ won by a foot. A win is a win!
I broke onto the Canadian team while still at Cal only to be reunited with coach Tony Carr and race in the under-23 8+ in the summers of 2001 and 2002 where we won Gold and Silver respectively. Then, after Oxford, I moved to Victoria to train with the group full time with the Athens Olympics as the target. Mike Spracklen, the Canadian team coach, is infamous for his difficult training program and therumours did not disappoint – three workouts a day, six days a week. I was able to earn a spot in the reigning World Champion Men’s 8+ and after winning all of the pre-season World Cup regattas we went in the Athens Games as the favourites to win. We had a good race in the heat breaking the world record… but the Americans broke it by .3 of a second more. In the end, we had a disappointing race in the final and finished a depressing 5th.
After a few frustrating years things were back on track in the lead up tothe Beijing Olympics. Training was going well both personally and as agroup. Then in late February I herniated my L5-S1 disc and was out for 6 weeks. I gradually worked back onto the water and was selected to race in the Men’s Pair with Dave Calder with the energetic Terry Paul as our coach. The three of us clicked very quickly and charged onto the scene atthe Lucerne World Cup; winning, and in the process beating Australia and New Zealand who hadn’t been touched in 3 years. After a shaky start to Beijing we recovered to have a solid race in the semi and set ourselves up for what was to be a duel against the Australians in the final. We had ourbest race, going stroke-for-stroke all the way down the course with two legends in the sport of rowing, and won the Silver Medal.
Since Beijing I have taken a few years away from rowing to heal my back and to start a career with RBC. For an athletic/competitive outlet I have trained for and raced in Ironman Canada twice and reconnected with my childhood sport of hockey. I began training seriously again in September after racing at the Canadian National Championships and moved back to Victoria to train full time with the team in January 2011. Over the course of the spring, I gradually got back up to speed and in June, Dave and I raced together for the first time in almost 3 years at the Lucerne World Cup. We were pleased with the result – grabbing the bronze medal and inserting ourselves into the top group of pairs with New Zealand and Great Britain.
Then, in late August, we raced at the World Champs which also served as the Olympic qualification regatta for the London Games next summer. Qualifying the year before the games is huge and allows you to focus solely on the Olympics rather than a ‘last chance’ qualification regatta 2 months prior to the Olympics. We progressed well through the heat and semi final but had a disappointing race in the final – finishing 5th. The positives are that we qualified and with an ‘off’ race, we were 5th. After a few weeks off, we are now back to full-time training… only 10 months to go! I’m really looking forward to a hard and productive winter of training and to some fast racing next summer.