Belief in myself as a rower

9 May 2021

Sonia Waddell

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Harry is the reason I’m rowing. He he had faith, he had faith in… I’m not, I’m not big. I think the heaviest I ever rowed at was about 65, 66 kgs. In Athens [2004 Olympic Games] I raced at 62 kg as a heavyweight woman sculler. I’m a metre 74 so I’m not tall. Harry, none of… my best erg’s 6:48.

And for Harry, that was… power to weight was everything. If you were athletic, and you had good power to weight, your size was not really important either way. So he he gave me a huge amount of belief and faith in myself as as a rower.

Harry loved athletes. He didn’t care what shape or form those athletes came in. He loved to see athleticism and felt like technique could be coached. But athleticism was there or wasn’t. And that’s how, you know, in many rowing, I guess, cultures around the world, I would never have even got a chance; I would have been considered too small right from the word go – a bit fragile.

And, you know, and yet, by one of the greatest, by one of the greatest coaches in the world, he told me I would, you know, I would be an Olympian before I’d even started rowing, basically.

I think, because he was so clever and so gifted, he didn’t have the constraints around what a rower looks like that some people have. Some people think, you know, the girls have to be close to 6-foot tall and, you know, legs up to here and arms out here and doing, you know, 6:30 ergs, and, you know, squatting 120 kgs. None of that was important to Harry.

He liked lean. Yeah. I remember when I first came, and it was… we did do a lot of body fat testing. And he, he wanted us to be lean and athletic. He didn’t want big and heavy. He wanted lean and athletic and dynamic. So if that came, in whatever form it didn’t matter to Harry.

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Sonia Waddell

Harry chose me as a triallist for the under-23 team, much to the, I guess, shock of everyone in the rowing fraternity as I’d only been rowing for 3 weeks.

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