John Keogh leads rowers to Tokyo from Launceston

sport, local-sport, rowing, australia, tasmania, 2020, examiner, john keogh, north esk

Forced from their Penrith training base due to air quality, the Australian women’s rowing team was only ever going to end up in one place. Launceston-born head coach John Keogh arrived with his 25-strong squad early this month and has spent nearly two weeks on the Tamar – the same location his own rowing career began nearly four decades earlier. Set to travel to his fourth Olympics this year after campaigns with Great Britain (2008) and Canada (2012, 2016), the 50-year-old father-of-two reflected on launching another Olympic year in his former home town. RELATED: Coach Keogh’s home truths Tamar to Tokyo: Aus rowers launch in Launceston Keogh appointed women’s head coach “I started here on this river when I was 12,” he said. “I started rowing for Queechy High School so it’s an interesting journey I guess, it’s taken me all around the world. “I’ve met some amazing people and been able to do some pretty amazing things with three different organisations so I feel pretty fortunate to do it but it’s gone in a flash. “It’s certainly a huge part of our life, my family and my life – rowing and this river and this town.” Keogh could be joined by as many as three Tasmanians in Tokyo, with Tamar rower Ciona Wilson and Huon pair Sarah Hawe and Georgia Nesbitt among those vying for Olympic selection. Only Hawe appears a lock at present, but both Nesbitt and Wilson have time to stake their claims, with a final Olympic qualifying event in Lucerne on the horizon. “Sarah Hawe is a double world champion and is in a really good position to be vying for a boat and do really well,” Keogh said. “Our lightweight Georgia Nesbitt, that boat isn’t qualified yet so those girls in that particular boat at present have a big task ahead of them – firstly to go fast enough domestically in Australia to warrant going over to the final qualifying regatta and getting through that to go to the Olympic Games. “For them it’s very clear what they have to do and they’re going well at training at the moment. “Ciona as part of the sweep group, she had a tough year last year and was plagued by injuries and disruptions to training and that’s tough for an athlete to get through, but she showed a lot of resilience and she’s certainly still in contention to make a boat for the Olympic Games. “We go through selection in March and final boats are set at that point and we’re watching them every day and moving people round to try to make sure that everyone has the best chance to succeed come Tokyo.” ELSEWHERE IN SPORT The national men’s and women’s squads are expected to continue training in Tasmania for the rest of the week before returning to their usual bases. Keogh said his athletes had managed the unfamiliar conditions well. “We realise there’s tidal flow here and we’re not used to that,” he said. “So coming here and having another variable to plan your training around and making sure that they understand the navigation marks and where to be on the river at different times is another variable and something to master which is good. “We’re all about trying to get better and learn every day and it’s a nice place.” Sign up to our Sport email here.

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