Vet­eran row­ing coach, 70, ad­mits re­tire­ment looms

The Daily Telegraph - Total Football - - RIO 2016 - By Rachel Quar­rell in Rio de Janeiro

Bri­tain’s most suc­cess­ful Olympic coach, row­ing’s Jür­gen Gröbler, will keep guid­ing his team for now, but may not stay un­til the 2020 Olympics, he told The Daily Tele

graph in Rio yes­ter­day, af­ter his four and eight won an ex­cep­tional pair of golds at Lagoa.

“At the mo­ment I’ll def­i­nitely carry on, but if it’s four years I don’t know,” said Gröbler. “You have to be in the driv­ing seat, I don’t like to limp.

“Time goes by, I’ve done 46 years as a front-line coach, it’s a long, long, long time.”

He turned 70 two weeks be­fore his crews de­liv­ered the per­fect birth­day present, but does not look a day older than 55.

Gröbler’s un­matched ca­reer as a coach runs from 1972 to 2016, omit­ting only the 1984 Los An­ge­les boy­cott when he was coach­ing East Ger­many. He got out of there as soon as pos­si­ble, com­ing to Bri­tain to coach Sir Steve Red­grave in 1990. He has coached 26 dif­fer­ent ath­letes to Olympic gold, 10 of them to two or more, and won ti­tles at an ex­tra­or­di­nary 10 straight Games in a row.

On Satur­day the burly and usu­ally calm Ger­man was close to tears as he watched the men’s eight, in­clud­ing Lon­don and Bei­jing cham­pi­ons Pete Reed and Andy T Hodge, claim the prize he has wanted his whole ca­reer – in ad­di­tion to the women’s eight win­ning sil­ver as GB topped the row­ing medal ta­ble.

“It’s such a chal­lenge,” he said, his eyes light­ing up. Vic­tory crowned a dom­i­nant Olympiad for the eight, re­garded as the blue riband event of the sport.

There will be re­tire­ments from his squad once the dust has set­tled, Hodge, Reed and Matt Lan­gridge be­ing amongst the most likely. Pow­er­house Moe Sbihi spoke af­ter his own Fri­day win about want­ing to carry on be­cause he is “nowhere near his prime”, and would be a gold-stan­dard leader to help bring Gröbler’s next gen­er­a­tion up to fight­ing weight. It might be enough to per­suade the coach to stay.

“It was very spe­cial,” he said as he ad­mit­ted to nerves. “The eight was per­sonal to me be­cause I did it for four years, and we won it, and I didn’t want to lose the last race. Not for the guys, but a lit­tle bit per­son­ally for me. They did it, and there was pres­sure on every­body, and they did it in style.”

He will not be watch­ing the race again yet, how­ever. “I don’t need to,” he ex­plained. “I have it here, in my head.”

End of the road: Jür­gen Gröbler says he might not be coach­ing the squad in 2020

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