Saturday, November 24, 2007

Masters at the Olympics

Sure, it can be assumed that every athlete at the Olympics may be a master at his or her sport: one does not get to compete for his or her nation without countless hours spent training. But is it possible for a Masters rower to compete at the Olympics? Apparently, a pair from southern Oregon are giving it a shot. Stephen Kiesling and Andy Baxter are reportedly training for the 2008 Olympic Trials before the Games in Beijing in August. Kiesling is fairly well-known in the rowing world as the author of "The Shell Game" and a member of two national teams ('79 and '80). Awesome? Yes. Projected to win? No. But I always love an underdog, and I can guarantee I'll be following this story as the trials near.

This Olympic cycle seems to be geared toward the comeback, now that I think about it. Down under, there's a resurgence of older, more experienced oarsmen coming back to the sport as well. Australian James Tomkins, who hasn't been a factor on the international racing scene since winning the M2- at Athens, raced in the M8+ at both World Cup 2 and 3 and the World Championships. Rob Waddell is also said to have made a push to train with Rowing NZ again after serving as a grinder with Team New Zealand on the 2003 and 2007 America's Cup Challenge. No word on whether Waddell will replace three-time World Champion Mahe Drysdale in the single sculls, but it would make for quite a sight to see the three of these former Olympians with a 28-year spread to line up in the heats in Beijing.