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Hammer Smith, rowing journalist of wide notoriety, seems to have managed to turn up at most of the biggest events of the last three decades (at least). Views are his own and the Rowing Voice takes no responsibility.

More silence over Grobler book

Posted by rowingvoice on September 16, 2018

A briefing from Hammer Smith:

Browsing in a fine bookshop the other day, my attention was caught by a biography of Jurgen Grobler, Britain’s stunningly successful chief men’s rowing coach, published by HarperCollins in July. I had seen a few references to ‘More Power’ in the media, but couldn’t recall a mention in British Rowing’s official Rowing+Regatta magazine, the latest 64-page edition of which had just popped through my letter box.

If I was writing a diary for the magazine as I did during its Regatta imprint, I would be posing the question as to why the official publication of Grobler’s employer should banish a book that tells his story of coaching eight crews to Olympic gold (and more to World gold) after an equally outstanding career in East Germany.

I would be asking why the editor of Rowing+Regatta dropped the idea of an extract prior to publication, which I understand she wished to do?

I would be asking why a book by two well-qualified authors [Hugh Matheson and Christopher Dodd] that has received critical praise and records British rowing’s climb to the top of the world should be shunned by the governing body – especially as the story has continued this week at the World Championships in Plovdiv, where Grobler is coaching the GB eight half way through the Tokyo Olympiad.

I would be asking who is the gatekeeper at British Rowing; who is the puppeteer pulling the strings?

Surely something for BR’s new chairman, Mark Davies, to investigate?

Hammer Smith, UK 2018

Plovdiv update:  the silence over the book at the world championships has been near-total, with many international coaches appearing not to know it exists, and of course no sign of it on the tables of the WorldRowing merchandise stalls run by New Wave under licence from FISA.  Grobler himself has repeatedly said he hasn’t read the book, nor the Times newspaper piece which rather selectively extracted the most sensational parts, but apparently friends of his have told him about both.

 

Some More Power review extracts:

But it is the human side at which Grobler has proved masterly – for instance, in managing the huge talents of Steve Redgrave through the vicissitudes of colitis in 1992 and type two diabetes in 1997, afflictions that would have seen an immediate end to his career had he been in the East German system. Grobler, by so many accounts in this book, is fundamentally honest with his rowers, hugely loyal, but also practical and at all times unsentimental.

– Mike Rowbottom, Inside the Games

 

We see a man who one imagines is capable of playing multiple chess games at once. His attention to detail runs to deciding who rooms together at training camps. In the words of Andy Triggs Hodge, It’s a genius at work.

– Tim Koch in Hear The Boat Sing

 

Describing the interaction between many well-known names and institutions, this is essentially a history of the development of modern rowing from a gritty but haphazard amateur pastime into today’s professional medal-making machine. A machine hand-built from almost nothing but with considerable influence from Jurgen Grobler’s hands on the steering wires.

– Neil Pickford, Amazon

 

Enjoyable read, well researched and written, particularly valuable for bringing to life the period of rowing history either side of the well-documented Redgrave/Pinsent era. It gave me a new sympathy for the pressures Grobler must have faced working within the GDR system and of the unavoidable personal compromises that he would have had to make in order to protect his family.

– G Braham, Amazon

 

Grobler may eventually decide to tell his story in his own words. In the meantime, however, this richly knowledgeable account does an excellent job on his behalf.

– Mike Rowbottom, Inside the Games

 

It is a splendid achievement by the authors, Hugh Matheson and Christ Dodd, the literary equivalent of the pairing of Redgrave and Pinsent or Bond and Murray – More Power to their elbows!

– Tim Koch in Hear The Boat Sing

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