|Volume 92, Issue 56
Thursday, January, 1999
in the books
Neufeld strokes to national honours
Gazette File Photo
By Anthony Thomas
Ryan Neufeld began working out with rowers in Grade 12 to help train for junior hockey. Neufeld traded in his stick for an oar soon after and as the recipient of Rowing Canada's 1998 male crew of the year award with partner Kevin White illustrates, he never looked back.
"I still like playing hockey but I've never considered playing competitively again," Neufeld said. "I love racing. It's unbelievable. That's what I love about rowing the rush you get when you're racing."
Neufeld also loves the team aspect of rowing. "There is no individual in rowing. You won't go fast unless the whole team goes together. Even in singles the coaching is important."
After unofficially breaking a world record last May at the Dadeville regatta in the United States, Neufeld and partner Mike Carmichael decided to try-out for the under 23 national team at Lake Fanshawe in London. The pair won the B final.
Neufeld was invited to stay with the Canadian team which was where he met White. Neufeld and White participated in and excelled at the Royal Canadian Henley in St. Catharines, Neufeld's hometown. They won the pair, were part of the winning four, the eight and also won the open men's dash.
It was the success at the Henley regatta which really locked up the male crew of the year award, an award completely based on results.
Neufeld gives a lot of credit to his former partner Carmichael. "Without Mike I wouldn't have met Kevin and wouldn't have got the award. It's unfortunate he didn't make the team."
The fourth-year kinesiology student also credits the strong rowing program at Western for his success. This year Western finished second, but previously had won five Ontario University Athletics championships in a row, a feat only matched by the University of Toronto in the early 1900s.
Neufeld's hard work has earned him the chance to train with the national team in Victoria.
"He has to train in an environment that is very competitive for him," said Western's rowing coach Volker Nolte. "Ryan is one of the best rowers we have in our program. He came to our program quite talented but over the years he has become more of a leader."
In September, the World Rowing Championships will be held in St. Catharines. This is only the second time Canada has ever hosted the championships and Neufeld said he is determined to represent Canada.
Peter King, chair of the awards committee for Rowing Canada said he believes winning crew of the year puts Neufeld on another level, giving him a good chance at making the national team. Nolte agrees.
"He has everything it takes mentally to make the team," Nolte said. "It is sad for me to see that such a talent would be away from the program but we try to develop personalities like Ryan in the Western program."
If things go really well and Neufeld makes the Olympic team, training will make it impossible to finish his degree next year.
"My education is foremost. It's a chance of a lifetime to do this. If I don't finish next year I'll finish the year after," he said.
Copyright © The Gazette 1999