15 October 2021 (Updated 17 October)
By Göran R Buckhorn
Earlier this week, Garry Herbert, Olympic champion cox for Greg and Jonny Searle in the pairs at the 1992 Olympic Games, wrote in a Tweet that Steven Redgrave or Greg Searle should take over as Performance Director for British Rowing when now both Andy Parkinson and Brendan Purcell had left the organisation after the disastrous British rowing results at the Tokyo Games.
In an article about this, published on Wednesday, I wrote that Sir Steve probably didn’t have the time as he is busy being the Chairman of Henley Royal Regatta, and that he couldn’t break his contract with the Chinese Rowing Federation where he is the Performance Director.
In a May 2019 article published by the news agency Reuters, Redgrave mentioned that the main goal for China was to take “two [Olympic] title in Paris in 2024”. I took this as his contract was running out after the games in the French capital.
I might be wrong.
On Wednesday, in an Instagram post, U.S. cox Katelin Guregian started a rumour that immediately took off. Guregian wrote that Sir Steve was in discussions with USRowing about becoming the High Performance Director for the Paris Games.
In the morning the next day (Thursday), Row2k wrote that Amanda Kraus, CEO of USRowing, had confirmed the discussions in a statement that read:
USRowing is committed to pushing forward an ambitious high-performance plan for Paris2024, LA2028 and beyond. A new head of high performance will be the lead architect – designing a system that identifies, develops, and retains the top rowers in this country with the shared goals of diversifying the strength of our talent pool, prioritizing the athlete experience, and leading the world in rowing. We have recently begun our search for the new head of High Performance. We can confirm that Steve Redgrave is interested in playing a role at USRowing and we are very pleased to be in conversation with him. We will be following the processes laid out for the search and look forward to sharing more in the coming weeks.
Later the same day, Rowing News wrote in an article that there were significant changes coming to USRowing National Team system. Rowing News wrote that “Since the end of the Tokyo cycle, rumors have circulated that there will be significant changes among the national team coaching staff and the operations of Princeton and Oakland Training Centers.” The article continued: “Those rumors include the departure of men’s head coach Mike Teti, and the closure of the Oakland and Princeton Training Centers.”
At the end of July, HTBS wrote that Mike Teti had been criticised by some rowers for what they called his intense and intimidating style.
While there are no formal decisions being made, “changes are coming,” Kraus told Rowing News. “Princeton is still going to be a location for athlete training with USRowing,” Kraus said. “But it will be a smaller group. There is no plan not to run something in Princeton.” Kraus mentioned that the new procedures will be announced today, Friday (see below in bold).
If the British results in Tokyo can be described as “disastrous”, the USA’s results were even worse. It was the first time in Olympic history that no American crew brought home a medal in rowing – in those games where the USA has competed. The country had no crews racing at the Olympic Games in 1896, 1908, 1912 and 1980.
Whoever will follow Matt Imes, the previous USRowing High Performance Director for two Olympic cycles, be it Steve Redgrave or not, it will be announced by the end of the year.
Update: Read about the changes USRowing CEO Amanda Kraus is mentioning above here.