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National Time Trials underway in Penrith

The first series of National Time Trials began today as part of the Selection Event Requirements for this year’s Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic hopefuls. Over 120 athletes descended on the Sydney International Regatta Centre for the first day of time trials with athletes competing a variety of boats and crew combinations over a distance of 3.8 kilometres.

Post-racing today, Rowing Australia’s General Manager – Sport, Jaime Fernandez, himself an Olympic silver medallist, explained how time trials work as a selection tool and what kind of tactics athletes use when competing in them for international selection.

“This is our first selection regatta as part of our Olympic and Paralympic selection process and over the next few days we have athletes competing in various boats, from the small boats – singles and pairs – through to the big boats of doubles, fours, quads and eights and they’re doing a time trial format.

“Originally this was going to be occuring on the Nepean River but we’ve bought the trial over otto the Sydney International Regatta Centre (due to water conditions) and today they have done two trials of 3.8 kilometres, which is a little unusual for them to do on this course, but certainly provides a good opportunity for coaches, athletes and the selectors to get some good visibility on the crews.”

Explaining the type of things that selectors are looking for in athletes when it comes to a time trial, Fernandez commented: “Crews going as fast as possible, obviously, is the main thing, and obviously comparing times. This is a little different as most of these athletes will be used to doing a time trial in a straight line or as straight as possible on a water course and going from Point A to Point B, whereas on this course they are having to do a turn to and traditionally it’s only the Victorian athletes who are used to doing that format. That being said they’re [the selectors] looking for those key elements – length of stroke, blade skills, operating well, particularly in crew boats, and ability to be consistent in performance from piece to piece.”

Commenting on how the athletes have performed today (Wednesday) Fernandez added: “I think, as I’ve mentioned before, it’s been a different format for the majority of athletes and they have done a good job and it’s been a positive day. We’ve completed two trials today with the first one having over 120 athletes and over 100 boats competing so it’s a large event that went off without any incident. The weather was favourable with a bit of a breeze this afternoon and on the whole there were some good performances with some athletes putting their hand up and few little changes I guess from the status quo, which is always exciting.

“I think every athletes’ tactics vary when it comes to time trials, depending on what you think your strenghts and weaknesses might be, but I think probably with this type of format the rate is up a little higher, they’re trying to make more of the shorter stretch, the 1800 or so metres up the course, probably spending a few more biccies earlier than normal because they have the turnaround point before they go again for that second lap and it’s shorter than the standard 5 km time trial, so the output would be higher, but over a shorter distance.”

Tomorrow will see further time trials, with an ominium scheduled for Friday morning. Fernandez explained the final aspect of the event by saying: “Ominiums have been around for a number of years in our country but it’s looking at various distances over the 2 kilometres, so they’ll do 2km, 1500m, 1km and 500m traditionally, so we get to see crews and how they perform over those various distances, and it’s also a bit of fun with racing, and an opportunity to see different combinations perform particularly going from the longer stuff back into the shorter stuff.”