The Champion Grip

Trent University’s new sculpture Dead Reckoning by David Robinson. Photo: David Robinson Sculpture @robinsonstudiogallery/Instagram.

14 September 2021

By Göran R Buckhorn

How about that grip?

HTBS received an email regarding yesterday’s article about Canadian artist David Robinson’s sculpture Dead Reckoning, which had been installed next to the Trent Athletics Centre at Trent University in Peterborough, Ontario.

The email came from Linda Holmquist Mengelbier, one of HTBS’s loyal readers from the old home country, Sweden, who has graced these pages with a couple of articles. The latest one she penned, published on 30 April this year, was a review of British Olympic medallist and World Champion Frances Houghton’s Learnings from Five Olympic Games.

Linda wrote that she enjoyed the article about Robinson’s sculpture, but she unobtrusively wondered if the Canadian scullers didn’t keep their thumbs at the very end of the oar handles? “That’s how I was taught to scull,” she wrote and added a smiley face.

Close-up on those thumbs, hands and oar handles.

I honestly don’t know how the Canadian scullers are taught to scull, but this oar handle gripping style has created a stir ever since Skibbereenian Paul O’Donovan let his hands slide down the handles a few centimetres. And proper style or not, O’Donovan and his partner in the Irish lightweight double, Fintan McCarthy, took both the Olympic gold medal in July and won the Double Sculls Cup at Henley Royal in August.

Both Fintan McCarthy and Paul O’Donovan sculling with the winning grip. Photo: Tim Koch
The Champion Grip

When O’Donovan was interviewed about his grip style, he said it just “feels nice”. So, there you have it. David Robinson’s artwork is following the latest in rowing.

Though, it might be said: don’t try the Champion Grip when you are far from land.

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