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Final Retirements for Legends of Australian Rowing

Over 60 Australians recently travelled to Belgium to compete at the 2015 World Rowing Masters Regatta.  Whilst there were a number of great performances from Australian crews, the results of two Australian rowing legends, Paul Guest and David Ramage to take home four gold medals in the I8+, I2-, H8+ and G4+ was particularly noteworthy. Following the regatta the duo made the decision to retire from the sport after glittering careers that featured highlights over 50 years at through National Championships, Commonwealth Games, World Championships, Olympic Games and on to the top of Masters rowing.

Guest represented Australia in rowing at three Olympic Games (Rome – 1960, Tokyo – 1964 and Mexico – 1968), and 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. Ramage, a two time Olympian himself (Tokyo – 1964 and Mexico – 1968), also won a Silver Medal at the 1962 Commonwealth Games.

The duo rowed together in the Men’s Pair at the 1968 Mexico City Olympic Games in what was to become possibly both the highlight and the lowlight of their outstanding careers.  Unbeaten in Australia, Guest and Ramage were selected in the Men’s Coxless Pair and were regarded as one of the finest pair oared crews Australia has ever produced.  However, the crew was to experience extreme misfortune in the semi-final at Mexico where, whilst in a commanding position and just short of the finish line, Ramage partially collapsed suffering oxygen deprivation in the high altitude. The crew was relegated to the B-final by 1.18 seconds in a time that would have won the other semi-final, and then went onto win the B-final in a time some 6 seconds faster than the eventual Gold medal winners.

After retiring from elite rowing the Victorians moved into coaching and administration, with Ramage coaching multiple Geelong College crews to Head of the River victories and Guest becoming a judge of the Family Court of Australia, President of Banks Rowing Club in Melbourne and Chairman of the Rowing Australia Appeals Tribunal, and receiving the Order of Australia Medal in 2013 for his services to the community and to the sport of rowing.

Guest has also continued to compete actively in Masters rowing both on and off the water, and earlier this year he broke the World Record for the 75-79 year age category at the CRASH-B World Indoor Rowing Championships in Boston by six seconds. In the process, Guest not only claimed another Gold Medal for his collection, but also raised over $53,000 for the Lasallian Foundation, an organisation that supports educational development programs for the poorest of the poor children in the Asia Pacific region.

“Rowing  has been a major force in my life. Above all however is the resonant sense of achievement in representing your country – to wear the green and gold in the International arena engaging the best of each country is the ultimate prize. One must always compete with pride, passion, focus and an unrelenting commitment to succeed,” said Guest.

Both Paul and David have been immense contributors to the sport of rowing, and Rowing Australia joins the rest of the Australian rowing community in thanking them for their service and wishing them well for their retirements from competitive rowing.