It seems the British Olympic organisers are in a pickle since the leading rowing nations Germany, Australia, The Netherlands, and the U.S. have complained loudly to the International Rowing Federation, FISA, and the International Olympic Committee about unfairness in getting to the race course on Lake Dorney.
In an interview with a Daily Telegraph’s sport journalist, the Australian rowing team manager Ray Ebert expresses his concerns as, from the beginning it was said that, it would be a 30-minute travel to Lake Dorney, but now it is suddenly close to an hour. As most of the travelling is going to be on the M25 and the A4 with its bad traffic, it can even take longer.
An Australian newspaper wrote the other day that the British are really bending the rules “to ‘breaking point’ as they look to gain an edge on other competitors.” The British rowing team has secured a residence by the Thames to be able to voyage on the waterway for easy access to practise on the Olympic course. Read the article in the Daily Telegraph here.
Reading this hullabaloo, I remembered that for the first Olympic regatta in England, at Henley in 1908, foreign crews were not allowed to enter the 1908 Henley Royal Regatta as they otherwise would get an advantage, knowing the course. This did not apply to any of the British crews of course. There was an outcry in the British press, as many of the journalists took this as an unsportsmanlike way to stop the Royal Club Nautique de Gand from taking its third straight victory in the Grand. When the gentlemen at the Belgian club in Ghent told some British papers that they would not dream of going to Henley Royal so close to the Olympics, the air went out of the whole thing. In the Olympic final of the eights, the Leander boat, ‘The Old Crocks’, became Olympic champions and the Royal Club Nautique de Gand took the silver medal.
But I think that HTBS has a solution to the problem with transportation to Lake Dorney this summer. Instead of having the rowers reside in the Olympic Village, why can’t they just stay in tents close to the course? That is what we had to do when I was rowing for a championship. Of course, that was almost three decades ago and the ‘championships’ was the Junior Swedish Championships. Ahh, well never mind…