Five-time Olympian Edwards calls time
3 August 2012
ROWING: Australian five-time Olympic rower Anthony Edwards broke down in tears as he talked about his history in rowing and the support of his family after he rowed for the last time in the lightweight men’s four final at Eton Dorney on Day 6.
The 39 year-old Aussie narrowly missed out on going out with a medal, when he, Samuel Beltz, Ben Cureton and Todd Skipworth finished fourth.
They rowed a powerful race, and were second entering the last 500m, but couldn’t keep that run going in the desperate final stages.
Australia finished in 6min 04.5sec. Gold-medal winners South Africa clocked 6:02.84 to win, with Great Britain second and Denmark third. The Aussies were just 0.89sec outside of the bronze.
Edwards, who won a bronze medal in the lightweight double sculls at Atlanta, in 1996, and silver medals in the lightweight fours at both Sydney, 2000, and Athens, 2004, said the team gave it all they had in their shot at glory.
“We couldn’t have done anything more,” he said. “It was a great start today, and a great middle 1000. We just didn’t have anything left in the last 200.”
Asked to confirm plans to retire from competition with these Games, Edwards replied: “Oh yeah. I mean, I could say ‘I think so’, but I know so.
“The last three years have probably been the most enjoyable of my rowing career in many ways. Brett (Crow) has been a great support for me as a coach. He understands not just the athlete side of it, but the characters and the personalities.
“My family understand as well. I didn’t enjoy the build-up to Beijing (in 2008), and I didn’t enjoy Beijing, but my wife knew I wasn’t finished after Beijing. I didn’t know, but she did. I came back and I’ve probably had the best part of my rowing career since.”
Edwards said fourth position – so close, but yet so far from a medal – was always hard to reconcile with for competitors.
“No words can explain it,” he said. “Fourth’s a horrible position to come, but I think we’ll look back on it and say we gave it everything we had. It’s just an incredible race and an incredible event, and we always knew if we gave it our best race it was going to take an exceptional crew to beat us, and there were three of them today.”
Edwards said he would look back on the last 20 years of top-level competition with great pride.
“Yeah, five Olympic Games, I would have never thought that,” he said. “I think each one of them’s a journey in itself, and I look back at 1996, and, how long ago was that! So long ago, and to go through and be around when Steve Redgrave has rowed, or James Tomkins, it’s been a great experience. I remember the ‘Oarsome Foursome’ being in lane six in 1996 and getting up. I was so proud of those guys.
“It’s been an amazing career, and it’s something you do, you just get used to doing it every day. I think the only way to explain it is like any worker who’s been doing his job for 30 years - I’ve been doing my rowing for that long as well, and you do think about that retirement side of your last race.
“ I had to try and block it out leading up to the event, and take each day and each step, and enjoy it every day.”
Greg Prichard at Eton Dorney