2 June 2016
Last Saturday, 28 May, twin sisters Caroline and Georgina Evers-Swindell of New Zealand were awarded the Thomas Keller Medal during the World Rowing Cup in Lucerne, Switzerland. The Evers-Swindells received their 18-carat gold medals from Dominik Keller, son of the FISA’s former President, the late Thomas Keller. This is the first time that the award has gone to New Zealand and the second time since the medal was instituted in 1990 that it has been awarded to more than one person. The first time was in 1999 when both the Canadians Silken Laumann and Kathleen Heddle won the medal.
The Thomas Keller Medal recognises an outstanding career in rowing and the Evers-Swindell twins won the award ahead of this year’s other finalists: Erin Cafaro (USA), Caryn Davies (USA), Thomas Ebert (DEN) and Greg Searle (GBR).
The identical twins both discovered rowing as teenagers; Caroline initially and then followed by sister Georgina. Both sisters showed talent almost instantly. Caroline first made the New Zealand national team as a junior in 1995 and Georgina in 1996.
By the age of 19, Caroline and Georgina were both on the senior national team and they soon started competing in the same boat, racing for two seasons in the women’s eight. In 2000, they swapped into the double sculls. Although they missed out on qualifying for the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games, their adeptness at making a double go fast was obvious. The following year they raced at the World Rowing Championships in the double and the quadruple sculls and earned silver medals in both boat classes.
A year later they became World Champions for the first time in the double. The winning continued and the sisters gained a reputation for being unbeatable. They went on to become the only women’s double to win back-to-back Olympic gold medals. These came in 2004 and 2008. Following the 2008 Olympics, the twins retired.
They still carry a legacy of being the inspiration for many New Zealanders to take up rowing and the growth of high school girls’ rowing can be in part attributed to them.
To view the list of previous Thomas Keller Medal winners, please click here.