On 1 March 2015, approximately 2500 people came together from 34 countries at the CRASH-B World Indoor Rowing Championships in Boston, USA.
Three Australians were present at the event, with three time Olympian and Masters rower, Paul Guest, leading the ergo charge breaking the former World Record for the 75-79 year age category by six seconds.
The 76-year-old Victorian represented Australia in rowing at three Olympic Games (Rome – 1960, Tokyo – 1964 and Mexico – 1968) while he also competed in the first World Rowing Championships in Lucerne in 1962 and again in 1966 and 1970. He was a Commonwealth Games Gold Medallist in 1962
Awarded the Order of Australia Medal in 2013 for his services to the community and to the sport of rowing, the now retired Family Court judge and Queens Counsel, focusses his energy on Masters rowing and raising funds for the Lasallian Foundation, an organisation that supports educational development programs for the poorest of the poor children in the Asia Pacific region.
“Once I left the elite side of rowing, I turned my focus to my legal career and took up running marathons and long distance swimming. I only returned to rowing in 1995 when I took up the Masters side of the sport.
“I rowed at the 2009 World Masters Rowing Regatta and after not winning any gold medals (3 silver), I decided I would have a go at the Australian Indoor Rowing Championships later that year, where I won gold and was then sponsored by Concept 2 to go to the 2010 Crash B’s. I was competing in the 70-year-olds category. I loved the blood and guts involved and walked away with a win at the event and then broke the world record.”
The President of Banks Rowing Club and inducted into the Rowing Victoria Hall of Fame, Guest has had his fair share of battles having survived the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks; in 2011 Guest had a hip replacement, broke his collar bone and underwent an operation for the removal of Level 4 Melanoma (where he was informed his life expectancy was limited).
“In August of 2011, I climbed onto my ergo at home and commenced a diary, “My journey to break the world record when I turn 75 (which happened in 2014) and win the Crash B’s in 2015. With the event being held in February and my birthday being in March, I had to train an extra year, but I carried out the faith”.
“At the event this year I was up against an Italian rower who, as a matter of interest, I competed against at the 1962 World Rowing Championships and who was the European record holder in the 75-79 year division. Although he came out quickly in the early stage of our race, we rowed stroke for stroke and ultimately I proved to be stronger at the finish”.
“The journey since 2011 has been tough and an unrelenting one. When I won the event and broke the record, I came straight home. Mission accomplished.”
Guest’s journey to compete at the Crash B’s has not just been about himself, despite all his battles and being recently diagnosed with an incurable degenerative disease. His drive has not only been towards reaching his personal goal but also about raising much needed funds for a cause he truly believes in as a Board member and Director of the Lasallian Foundation.
“I believe in creating positive change through education. The money I have been raising, I’ve just over $7000 left to raise before I hit my target of $60,000, will go towards building a multi-purpose community hall, part of a new educational Lasallian secondary school in DakMil, a small town located in the Dak Nong Province in the Central Highlands region of Vietnam.
“Tribal communities in the Central Highlands have very limited access to health care, education and employment, so sport can play a significant role in improving their quality of life by creating a sense of teamwork while forging friendships. I believe every child deserves an education and a chance to be active and healthy,” explained Guest
To donate to Guest’s cause and to find out more, please click here.