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Archive for August, 2016


Posted by rowingvoice on August 9, 2016

Greetings fellow rowing cognoscenti.

Imagine my delight when my agent booked me to Rio for an overseas gig. Imagine my disappointment when I was diverted from beech volleyball at Copacabana to the Lagoa at Flamengo FC, where there was supposed to be a regatta on, although ocean waves had postponed it by the time I got there. still, beggars can’t be choosers…


Unrequited taste buds

The media room, a cool and airy space on the second floor of the Lagoa’s vast grandstand, is a great location for yours truly to pick up gossip, but with the athletes’ restaurant and volunteer ‘rest zone’ both on the floor below, the gentlemen (and nine ladies) of the press are regularly tantalised by the mouthwatering smells wafting up the stairs.  Alas, hacks have no amenities at the course, and must join the endless queues of spectators for overpriced cardboard hot-dogs, plastic ‘chicken’ fried in concrete, popcorn and sugary snacks.  Or they would, but the (Coca-Cola) catering franchises promptly pack up and stop serving as soon as the crowds have gone post-racing. Time to show a re-run of Alive! in the basement cinema doubling here as a press conference room…


Aye aye cap’n

Australian sculling star Kim Brennan was in a bit of a mood on Saturday after only just managing to qualify for the W1x quarter-final in water described as “oceanic” by some rowers.  With the flat calm experienced by the first three men’s singles races, Brennan had chosen her lighter-weight shell to race in, not the heavier one rigged for bumpy water, so her slow race was partly explained by lugging a couple of dozen extra kilos along with her svelte self.  Saturday’s epic boat-swamping wind blew up in less than ten minutes, heat 4 of the M1x suddenly encountering whitecaps in the Bermuda Triangle between 500-1500m which made them look like novices taking full strokes for the first time.


Bob caught in the frame

Dr Robert Treharne Jones is a man of many parts. Some may have known him as a medical columnist in the old Regatta magazine. Some will have come across him as Leander’s press officer, tirelessly promoting the pink’uns’ role and status in the world. Some may even have benefitted from his considerate bedside manner when he practised as a GP. Some know him as a FISA race commentator, and excellent at that, in which capacity he is serving at the Estadio de Lagoa in Rio. Wearing many hats is common in rowing, but becomes a heightened bone of contention at the Olympics because, as I have remarked before, the IOC’s protocol is chiefly aimed at barring social intercourse at their great festival of sport. Media, athletes, officials, functionaries and spectators are kept apart by armies of volunteer Jobsworths as much as humanly possible. Only mosquitos float unhindered between the classes.

Thus the scene at the gate of the Olympic boathouse area the other day, when the Pink Palace’s press officer made to pass through with a camera round his neck. The volunteer gatekeeper, well known in other walks of life as creator of bespoke rowing clothing and wielding cameras, refused him entry as instructed. Oh, protesteth Bob Jones, but the women’s eight have invited me to photograph them. Then I suggest you engage an accredited photographer, came the stinging reply as the gate failed to yield.

(PS – I hear the Minister for Sport from Uruguay was dealt with in an equally summary fashion two days later.  Sir Matthew Pinsent has also been denied entrance, and Romanian grande rowing dame Elisabeta Lipa, who said “But I am Lipa!” when challenged.  “But you’re not supposed to be here” came back the lofty reply.  “Yes, I know,” said a crestfallen Lipa, turning away.


Don’t trust the press

One journalist came asking the media services team for help getting exactly the shot he wanted.  “What do you want to photograph?” he was asked.  “The dirty water,” the journalist replied.  “But there isn’t any.”  “I must have dirty water” insisted the desperate hack.  “Sorry — the only picture of dirty water I have is from two years ago,” said the local volunteer.  A large clean-up operation has taken place since then.  There are rather a lot of fish visible in it now:  better than the Tideway…..


Hammer Smith, Lagoa Rodriguo de Freitas, Copacabana


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