By Mark Etheridge
Olympic rowers have praised the recent selection of national coach Roger Barrow as this year’s international coach of the year.
Barrow, who has overseen the South African rowing campaign at both the 2012 and 2016 Olympic games, was named Coach of the Year by the sport’s governing body, FISA.
It was the second time he’d been up for nomination, making the short list in 2014 as well.
The Pretoria-based Barrow will receive his reward in Vancouver, Canada next month.
As ever, Barrow was quick to share the glory. ‘I must recognise the team effort of all our national coaches, our small but powerful technical/medical team, the athletes, institutional structures (SASCOC, RowSA, Schools and Universities), sponsors, benefactors and the members of our greater community that support the environment in which I work in.
‘Without them this would not have been possible. It certainly gives a huge amount of confidence to myself and the team going forward. As I’ve said before belief is crucial in the world of sport.’
After the announcement, Rio Olympics trio David Hunt, James Thompson and Kate Christowitz sang Barrow’s praises.
Said Hunt: ‘Roger is a fantastic technical coach, but it is the culture he has instilled in our team that sets him apart. In a system like ours, the success of one boat can be attributed to good coaching and an incredible performance by those athletes.
‘But the success of the entire team like the success enjoyed by the South African rowing team in Rio, getting all five boats into the top five, must be attributed to a winning culture within the team.
‘This culture he has instilled allows our team, with comparably minimal resources and depth to stand shoulder to shoulder with the power houses of our sport and often come out on top.
‘We as South African rowers have always known what an asset Roger Barrow is to our system and him winning this award is just recognition of what we already know.’
Added Christowitz: ‘Winning coach of the year is an incredible achievement for both Roger, personally, and Rowing South Africa as a whole. Roger had a vision for rowing in South Africa and he did everything in his power to get us to where we are. This is only the beginning of Roger’s success.
‘I believe he has many more years of building this team into something greater than anyone could imagine. No-one in the world is more deserving of this than Roger!’
And two-time Olympian, Thompson concluded: ‘It’s an amazing achievment for Roger. It comes after many years of hard work and is recognition for the remarkable system and structure he has build over the last 10 years.
‘South African sport and particularly rowing is lucky to have had him involved. If he is involved through to Tokyo 2020, I suspect we are in for a great next Olympic cycle.’
Picture of Barrow at the Rio Olympics courtesy of Wessel Oosthuizen/Gallo Images