Athlete Biography1964 -
Michael McKay was a single-minded competitor even during his schooldays at Melbourne's Xavier College... whether he was playing football or rowing. His fierce brand of determination and self-belief was always evident throughout his progress to three world championship rowing gold medals, one with the Australian eight in 1986, and two with the Oarsome Foursome, as well as two Olympic gold medals in 1992 and 1996. McKay, with James Tomkins and Andrew Cooper, was a member of the eight which won the world title in 1986 but finished fifth at the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games. It was in the wake of that disappointment that the first version of the Oarsome Foursome was formed, with McKay teaming with Tomkins, Nick Green and Sam Patten to win the coxless fours at the world championships on Lake Barrington, Tasmania. When Patten withdrew to concentrate on his medical studies he was replaced by Andrew Cooper, who was a member of the four when it won the world title in Vienna and later the gold medal at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics.
Two major changes were made as the Foursome began its campaign for the Atlanta 1996 Olympics. Cooper withdrew, to be replaced by Drew Ginn; and McKay took over the stroke seat from Tomkins. This change was based mainly on McKay's strength as a rower, but it also symbolised his leadership role in the boat. He was also awarded the honour of carrying the flag in the Atlanta Closing Ceremony. McKay was a member of Australia's eight member crews for both the 2000 and the 2004 Olympics, winning silver in Sydney and bronze in Athens.
Harry Gordon, AOC historian