ZIMBABWEAN Olympic rower, Micheen Thornycroft will wind up her 2012 itinerary when she takes part in two competitions slated for Egypt later his month.
REPORT BY MICHAEL MADYIRA
The 25-year-old will first compete in the African Rowing Championships from November 28 to December 2, before contesting in the two-day Alexandria International Regatta which starts on December 3.
After a hectic year whose biggest highlight was participation at the London Olympics, Thornycroft will travel to Egypt as coach/athlete along with four youngsters: Murray Faber, Peter Purcell-Gilpin, Daniella du Toit and Eliza Fraser-Mackenzie.
Du Toit and Fraser-Mackenzie will be using the Egyptian regatta as part of preparations for qualification races for the 2014 Second Summer Youth Olympics to be hosted by the Chinese City of Nanjing.
Purcell-Gilpin and Faber were at the Fisa World Junior Championships in Bulgaria in August where the former finished 16 out of 33 rowers in the single sculls while they came 22nd in the doubles sculls.
With 14 African countries participating in Egypt, highly-competitive South African rowers are likely not to feature, brightening the Zimbabweans’ medal prospects.
Thornycroft, who is Africa’s number one female single sculls rower, will race in her usual singles, while the youngsters will take part in both single and doubles.
Although she returned home with no medal from the Olympics, 2012 was Thornycroft’s most eventful year as she also raced in Spain, Italy, Germany, Switzerland, Netherlands and South Africa.
“This year has been my most competitive year of sport at the highest level possible, it honestly is the best year of rowing I have ever had,” said Thornycroft.
“It has been a steep learning curve and wasn’t always easy, as I had only six months to adjust to international singles racing before the Olympic Games.”
She will begin readying herself for the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics early next year and has already engaged fitness expert Grant Mitchell of the Innovate High Performance Centre where she is now training.
Physiotherapist Margie Gibson will continue working with Thornycroft in a technical team that also includes her Canadian coach Rachel Davies as well as Ryan Bathurst, who has previously worked with Great Britain’s rowing team as a physiotherapist.
“Next year is the first of my four-year plan aiming towards Rio 2016, so it is key. Many rowers will take a break, but I have some catching up to do and so I plan to race as much as possible,” Thornycroft said.
In January 2014, she will attempt a month-long Atlantic Ocean rowing expedition with an eight-member Zimbabwe/South African team to become the first Africans to row in an ocean.
“I however have put myself as reserve for the team because I am not sure yet if I am able to commit fully as it takes a huge toll on your body physically as you row for two hours on, two hours off for a month. It takes around a year for your body to fully recover and be able to race at its maximum potential,” she said.
The expedition’s goal is to raise US$397 400 to fund educational projects in South Africa and Zimbabwe. The world record of rowing across the Atlantic currently stands at 32 days.