Later this month, on 20 May, it will be announced who is this year’s winner of the Thomas Keller Medal, the most prestigious medal awarded in rowing. The winner, who has been selected by the World Rowing Federation, FISA, will receive the 18-carat gold medal from the hand of Dominik Keller, the son of FISA’s former president Thomas Keller. The ceremony will take place at the 2016 World Rowing Cup II in Lucerne, Switzerland.
Following public nominations, the finalists were decided by FISA’s council and commission members. The nominees are (in alphabetical order):
Erin Cafaro (United States) first made the United States national team as an under-23 rower and, in her first international regatta, she was part of the gold medal women’s four. Cafaro then moved into the senior squad and went on to take gold at the 2008 and 2012 Olympic Games in the eights. Along the way, she proved that it was possible to race in two boat classes successfully when she won gold at the 2009 World Rowing Championships in both the eights and pairs. Cafaro’s tenacity saw her overcome injury to carry on and she also challenged the perception that rowing is just for tall women.
Caryn Davies (United States) is described as the epitome of the scholar-athlete. Having earned a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from Harvard University in 2005 and a Doctor of Law from Columbia University in 2013, she also became an Olympic Champion twice and a four-time World Champion between 2002 and 2012. She has stroked the USA eight repeatedly since its winning streak began in 2006 and helped the boat set two World Best Times. Davies then went on to do an MBA at Oxford University, Great Britain, and during that time she stroked the women’s Oxford boat to victory in the 2015 Oxford-Cambridge Boat Race.
Thomas Ebert (Denmark) finished his rowing career with three Olympic medals – two of them gold. Ebert won these as part of Denmark’s legendary lightweight four and included a 2008 successful comeback after stepping away from the four following gold at the Athens Olympics. Ebert’s career spanned nearly two decades and in that time he worked his way up from junior representative, through under-23s before making the Danish senior team as a 21-year-old. By the time of his retirement, Ebert had collected seven senior World Championship titles.
Identical twins Caroline and Georgina Evers-Swindell (New Zealand) retired in 2008 as two-time Olympic Champions. At Beijing, they successfully defended their title in the double sculls. This was the first time in the history of Olympic rowing that two consecutive wins had been achieved in the women’s double. Starting out rowing separately, the twins found success when they rowed together. Beginning in 2002, with a World Champion title, their winning continued. The Evers-Swindells have inspired many New Zealanders to start rowing, especially high school girls.
Between 1990 and 2000 Greg Searle (Great Britain) raced at three Olympic Games and at seven World Rowing Championships. During this time, he won two Olympic medals and five World Championship medals in a variety of sweep boat classes, from the eight to the four to the coxed pair, as well as in one sculling event, the single sculls. Following a fourth-place finish in the pairs at the Sydney Games, Searle retired from the sport for nine years, only to come back and compete at the highest level of competition in his late 30s. He finished his rowing career by medalling at the London 2012 Olympic Games, 20 years after competing at his first Olympic Games in 1992.
Created in 1990, the Thomas Keller Medal award celebrates athletes who have had an outstanding career in rowing, have shown exemplary sportsmanship and technical mastery of the sport as well as symbolise a legendary aspect both in and outside of their rowing career.
For a full list of former winners, please click here.