Yes, we can
The Australian women's coxed eights rowing crew training for the Olympic qualification regatta last month. Photo: Steve Christo
It’s the stuff beer commercials are made of. Tell someone they can’t do something, then sit back and watch them make you look silly.
Straight from the ‘‘they said you’d never make it’’ files this week comes the Australian women’s rowing eight.
Rowing Australia’s initial decision to not send a women’s eight crew to the London Olympics- based on recent Games results – infuriated the current crop of rowers. So much so that they fought, lobbied, appealed and, eventually, rowed their way to the Games.
Stigmatised by of the laydown Sally affair in the 2004 Athens Olympics (Sally Robbins stopped rowing) and last-place finish in Beijing, the women’s eight this time weren’t going to let anyone get in their way. After relenting in March, Rowing Australia set the women strict qualifying guidelines.
This week, they had to finish in the top two at a regatta in Lucerne, Switzerland, to make the Games. Unsurprisingly, they won.
‘‘We don't like people telling us what we can't do,’’ said team member Sally Kehoe this week.
Said her teammate Sarah Cook: "It's been in the media, politicians were involved, threats of law cases, blogs and letters, and hats off to Rowing Australia for finally opening it up. All we ever wanted was an opportunity.’’
So mark down these names: coxswain Liz Patrick, stroke Phoebe Stanley, Sally Kehoe, Robyn Selby-Smith, Sarah Cook, Hannah Vermeersch, Alex Hagan, Tess Gerrand and Renee Chatterton.
They’re going to London – and now no one can stop them.
Still, getting them to London is only a small part of the battle. Because they wasted so much time fighting for the chance to compete their preparation has been limited.
They beat Germany by three seconds in Lucerne. They’ll like their chances and, should they win Olympic gold, it will be one of the great feelgood moments of the Games.
Indeed if they can turn all the drama into gold in August, no doubt the beer companies will come calling - or, as Sally Kehoe said: ‘‘If we win gold, ring Hollywood.’’