Volume 94, Issue 7
UWO alumni rowing in Sydney - Mustang fever sets sights on Olympic gold
Gazette File Photo
By Trudy Chapman
With the Sydney Olympics fast approaching and dreams of gold medals dancing in the heads of Canadian athletes, the Western rowing team is a shining example of the talent that can be found throughout Western's intercollegiate athletic program.
Western's 'Learn to Row' program has been the starting point for several Canadian Olympic rowing team members, including Iain Brambell, who is currently a part of Team Canada's lightweight men's four rowing team and will compete next week at the Olympics.
While completing his bachelor of education at Western's Althouse College in 1998, Brambell belonged to the Mustang Varsity Rowing Team. Although Brambell did not come to Western as a rowing novice, he acknowledged the Mustang training program as being instrumental in his successful rowing career, by allowing him to build strong athletic principles on already solid foundation of rowing knowledge.
"People do start rowing in high school," Brambell explained. "However, there's a lot of people who don't start rowing until university or even after university and [these people are] on the national team at the moment," he said, pointing out the potential rowing talent found on university teams.
Jon Beare, another member of the Olympic lightweight men's crew, who graduated from Western in 1998 with a degree in economics, rowed and coached at the varsity level throughout his stay in London. As an experienced rower, Beare has weathered both ups and downs throughout his career.
"I quit rowing twice," he said. "Once was after the first two days because all we were doing was running and I didn't enjoy that and wanted to get on the water. The other time was when I first came to Western." Despite his rough start at the university, Beare says he is now at the pinnacle of his athletic career. "I enjoyed rowing at Western because it allowed me to meet a bunch more people."
According to rowing head coach Volker Nolte, Western has a strong rowing tradition and is known as a rowing powerhouse among Canadian universities.
"We try to keep up with a learning program for students here, so students come to Western and have a chance to learn rowing," he said. "Our coaching staff is outstanding and we can provide a good training system and training environment. This might be the reason that so many athletes have success coming through the Western program."
Fortunately, when many rowers have finished their athletic careers, they move out of the scull and into the coaching boat. Both Beare and Brambell have taken time to coach rowing and Nolte described them as shining examples of the fine training program Western has in place.
"We have to recruit assistant coaches every year and it is quite amazing to me that we can attract a very good coaching staff," Nolte said. "Many former Western rowers love to coach in the Western program, which is another sign that the program is attractive. I believe that we present to young people something special."
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