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Winning medals in Tokyo still the goal for SA Rowing coach Barrow

The team were in preparation for the Olympics when the coronavirus pandemic struck.

FILE: South Africa's James Thompson, Matthew Brittain, John Smith and Sizwe Ndlovu pose on the podium after receiving the gold medal in the men's lightweight four final A of the rowing event during the London 2012 Olympic Games on 2 August, 2012. Picture:AFP

JOHANNESBURG - South African national rowing coach Roger Barrow on Wednesday said the current lockdown was taking its toll on the team mentally more than anything else.

The team were in preparation for the Olympics when the coronavirus pandemic struck.

Speaking to EWN Sport, Barrow said team members had reacted differently to the sudden change in their regular routine, but that they were all continuing to do what they could both mentally and physically.

“I think it's been hard on our team because we're sort of a centralised team in that we meet every day, we train together, all day, and now suddenly we've all been sort of put apart. We are coping with the home thing very well, but it's very tough on the team to do this, as they are used to training together as a unit. It's really been tough and as coaches, we having to innovate, how do we look at coaching technique, how do we see things better, how do we get them all doing the same thing at the same time, and then most importantly, probably the emotional state,” he said.

Barrow said he had mixed emotions about the Tokyo Olympics being postponed, but that it was for the better in terms of everyone’s health. He said their main issue now was the training regiment that they would have to implement.

“The problem is what do we do now, because normally this time of the year we are heading over into Europe, we're starting to race, and we're getting a lot of experience. Now we've got four months until the next season starts so it's really a question of what do we do in these coming months, do we take a break, do we train harder, do we train less? I'm trying to work with some of the physiologist that I know and trying to get an understanding of the best way we can get the guys physically, mentally and emotionally ready come August when we start our new season of preparation for 2021,” he said.

Having achieved a silver medal with the Men's coxless pair in 2016 in Rio and a gold in London in 2012 with the men's lightweight coxless four, Barrow said the goal was to medal again in Tokyo.

“There's no doubt that I want to try and get a team to win another medal, I think we see what sport does for South Africa, and it really brings us together and put things on the map. From that point, it’s not necessarily the pressure of trying to win a game or a medal because we have done in the past but just because we want to succeed,” he said.