Rowing Australia today (23 October 2015) officially renamed its National Training Centre in Canberra after former Rowing Australia National Director of Coaching and Olympic rowing coach Reinhold Batschi OAM.
The event saw the former Head Coach of Rowing at the Australian Institute of Sport have the facility he helped to create in the early ’80s become ‘The Reinhold Batschi National Training Centre’. The 73-year-old Romanian-born coach said: “It’s a great honour and one that I did not expect and I feel very privileged to see the high performance section of the facility named after me. I couldn’t be happier or prouder, I would never have seen this happening when I first came to Australia.
“It’s fantastic to have so many of the past athletes here today, we spent so many months away overseas or in camps together so that they all feel like family to me so it’s wonderful that they were all here.”
Batschi came to Australia in the mid-70s thanks to AOC President John Coates AC, then the head of the Australian Amateur Rowing Council. Coates and Batschi have formed a lifelong friendship and the AOC President was thrilled to see Mr Batschi honoured, saying: “I’m delighted to see Reinhold honoured in this way and grateful to the Rowing Australia Board and also the Australian Sports Commission for renaming the National Training Centre after him.
“Reinhold was instrumental in making the Australian Rowing Team one of the best in the world and it is only fitting that the facility now becomes the Reinhold Batschi National Training Centre.”
In addition to his roles with RA and the AIS, Mr Batschi was head coach of every Australian Olympic rowing section from 1984 to 2000 and in that time Australia won 16 Olympic rowing medals (four gold, five silver and seven bronze) while the highlight of his coaching career is no doubt when in 1986 the Australian Men’s Eight won the World Rowing Championships.
The Reinhold Batschi National Training Centre began its life in 1986 when the first stage of the AIS Rowing Centre opened on the current site in Yarralumla, Canberra. Over the years it has expanded to include the offices, a gym, an ergometer room, treatment rooms and athlete meeting areas.
In 2010/11 the Australian Government funded an additional $2.2 million infrastructure upgrade to the centre so that it could host both the national high performance rowing program and the national head office for Rowing Australia, which is now known as Rowing Australia House. The Australian Government provides Rowing Australia with over $8 million in funding annually to support High Performance and Participation in the sport.
RA President, Rob Scott added: “It’s a fitting tribute for the centre to be renamed after Reinhold Batschi who has been instrumental in making Australia one of the leading rowing nations in the world.
“Without the support of the Australian Sports Commission, facilities likes this would not have got up and running and you can’t expect to have world class performers without world class facilities, so we owe a lot to the ASC for having the vision to invest in places like these.”
In addition to the renaming ceremony, the function also saw the launch of the McVilly-Pearce pin, named after Cecil McVilly, the first rower to represent Australia at an Olympic Games and Bobby Pearce, the first Australian rower to win an Olympic gold medal.
Every rower who has represented Australia at Senior level at either a World Rowing Championships, Olympic Games, Paralympic Games or a Commonwealth Games will receive a specially numbered pin to commemorate the first time they were selected to be part of an elite group of men and women who have had the honour to represent Australia on a world stage.
RA President Rob Scott was the first athlete to receive his pin as a silver medallist from the Atlanta 1996 Olympic Games. Mr Scott went on to present 27 past and present Australian Rowing Team members with their pins, including Olympic gold medallists Mike McKay and Megan Marcks (nee Still).
Post-ceremony, Mr Scott said: “To represent your country, as an athlete, is a real honour and the McVilly-Pearce pin really re-enforces that honour and what privilege it was and is to row for Australia.”
A number of the pin recipients today rowed under the guidance of Mr Batschi either in his capacity at the AIS or with the Australian Olympic Team, with many saying they were delighted to receive their pins in front of him.
McKay, a dual Olympic gold medallist in the Men’s Four from 1992 and 1996, won gold in the Men’s Eight in 1986 while being coached by Mr Batschi. McKay said: “It’s hugely significant to me to receive the McVilly-Pearce pin and I think it’s a great initiative by Rowing Australia to re-engage with the rowing community where so many Australian Rowing Team members still have a strong connection and love for the sport.
“The significance of the occasion today and the environment really makes it very special because Reinhold has been a huge part of my life for such a long time. To see him honoured in this way, to be part of the first recipients of the pin has meant the whole day has been particularly special.”
The following Australian Rowing Team members received their McVilly-Pearce pins today in Canberra, in brackets is their rower pin number:
Tim McLaren (327), Ion Popa (331), Tony Lovrich (347), Steve Evans (351), Merrick Howes (354), Dale Caterson (356), Kay Hick (378), Malcolm Batten (380), Mike McKay (382), Mark Doyle (383), Nick Hunter (404), Bruce Hick (407), Nick McDonald Crowley (442), Rob Scott (447), Megan Marcks (464), Craig Jones (467), Wayne Diplock (479), Jaime Fernandez (480), Alison Davies (486), Brett Hayman (490), Kathryn Ross (710), Alexandra Hagan (763), Gavin Bellis (765), Olympia Aldersey (776), Katrina Bateman (777), Spencer Turrin (782) and David Watts (820).
To check if your name appears on the ARTeam Database, please click here and get in touch with Rowing Australia. To qualify for a pin you must have physically rowed for a Senior team at a World Rowing Championships, Paralympic Games, Olympic Games and/or Commonwealth Games.