ROWING: The coach of Australia’s women’s quadruple sculls, Tom Westgarth, is looking forward to seeing his crew take to the water in the coming days when the Olympic regatta begins on day one (August 6) in Rio de Janeiro.
Westgarth’s crew of Jessica Hall, Kerry Hore, Jennifer Cleary and Madeleine Edmunds arrived from training camp in Italy on Friday and have already settled into the swing of things in Rio.
“We had a long flight into Rio a few days back and we got on the ground yesterday and rigged up our boat and had a paddle out on the course, Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas,” Westgarth said.
“It’s been a bit windy but we were expecting that, so it could potentially be challenging come race day. The course looks fantastic, it’s very scenic and we’re excited to be here. I’ve not been able to get out on the water, but the girls tell me the buoy lines look really good and the facilities look spot on.”
The crew features four-time Olympian, Hore, along with three athletes making their Olympic debut in Hall, Cleary and Edmunds. The experience of Hore is something the crew all draw upon.
“We’ve been really lucky in a way,” Westgarth said. “Kerry, who is at her fourth Olympic Games, brings a lot of experience to the group and is a real steadying influence for the younger girls. But the three first-time Olympians bring a lot of enthusiasm and a lot of talent. It’s a fantastic mix of experience, youth and excitement.”
The crew have been together for the past three years with Westgarth as their coach, and he believes it is definitely a contributing factor towards their recent performances.
“I think it’s a huge element of their current performance, they really have a good understanding of each other. I have been working with the crew for three years and it makes a big difference having that combination and understanding well established. We have had a long term plan and we’re at the fruition of that plan now, the Olympics.”
Westgarth has urged his athletes to savour the moments they are about to experience.
“It’s about enjoying the experience. They’ve done all the hard work to this point in time and now it’s about soaking up the experience and focusing in on those key basic elements. And when it comes to racing, they’ll do well.”
This is Westgarth’s first Olympic Games as a coach for Australia and he is relishing the opportunity and all that it entails.
“We are fortunate to have a fantastic coaching team, which includes our excellent Head Coach, in Chris O’Brien, who gives us a lot of his time, including myself, being a first time coach at the Olympics. It’s a very collaborative group and the culture of not just the rowers, but the coaching staff, has been fantastic.”
Westgarth, who rowed for Australia at an Under 23 level, is highly motivated and believes that motivation comes from his competitive nature.
“I’m motivated very heavily by my passion for rowing. I never was fortunate enough to reach the level of an Olympic Games as an athlete, and so I guess my competitive nature and passion for the sport have driven me to work with elite athletes in a coaching capacity.
“I’m excited to have contributed to a group of athletes who have been working together for a long time to help them on this next step of their journey.”