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Significant Changes Coming To USRowing National Team System

BY ED MORAN
PHOTO BY PETER SPURRIER

Since the conclusion of the Tokyo Olympics, USRowing has been deep in the planning stages to bring significant changes to the way it runs the men’s and women’s national teams, and the way it trains, selects, and develops the athletes that make up squads that will compete internationally over the next two Olympic cycles and beyond.

Most of those changes have been quietly talked about within the rowing community, but the only official indication of what is taking place came when the organization announced it was seeking a new director of high performance in the weeks following the Tokyo Games.

Rumor of who is active in the mix for that job surfaced this week, and among the most intriguing of the candidates is Sir Steve Redgrave, the British rowing legend who won gold medals in five consecutive Olympic Games and most recently guided the Chinese Olympic effort through Tokyo and where they won one gold and two bronze medals.

Sir Steven Redgrave and Sir Matthew Pinsent after winning a gold medal in the men’s pair at the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games.

Thursday morning, USRowing CEO Amanda Kraus confirmed that Redgrave is among the candidates and said that the beginning of the changes that will take place will become more public in the coming weeks, with a Friday announcement concerning athlete selection and training locations.

As for Redgrave assuming control of the high-performance position, Kraus said the process is still ongoing, but that a decision is expected by the end of the year.

“No decisions have been made,” Kraus said Thursday morning. “But we are in conversations with [Redgrave] We’ve had a number of applicants and we’ve narrowed it down to a handful of people who are of interest. We have a process in place, and we have a search committee,” she said. “The goal is to name someone by the end of the year.”

In a more formal statement released Thursday morning, Kraus said:

“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.”

Following the Tokyo Olympic Games, at which the U.S. did not win a rowing medal of any kind for the first time in its history, USRowing began the search for a new high performance director. That role has been held by Matt Imes for the past two Olympic cycles.

While no decisions have been made, there are changes coming to how USRowing trains and selects its national team athletes. Kraus said an announcement of what those new procedures will actually look like is expected Friday.

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. Those rumors include the departure of men’s head coach Mike Teti, and the closure of the Oakland and Princeton Training Centers.

No formal decisions have been announced as yet, but Kraus said Thursday morning that changes are coming.

As far as the Princeton training location, it will continue to exist but will be smaller.

“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.”

In the works, according to Kraus, are plans to more closely involve the U.S. club system and allow athletes to train where they want while still being supported by USRowing.

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