Another great of Australian rowing, Martin Owen, died on Monday night (15 July) after a long and debilitating illness. He had a formidable intellect and abundant enthusiasm which he used to great effect. He was a leader who had a considerable influence on many people.
For some 30 years, Martin was a great rower, coach and administrator of the sport.
As a cox, he won National Championships and steered at the interstate championships before turning his hand to lightweight rowing. His rowing achievements included winning four National Lightweight Eight Championships in a row before coaching crews which also won this event. He was a small lightweight, but tenacious. He was unlucky not to be selected into Australian crews for several years in a row. In the year he was most likely to be selected, he was in a serious car accident at the National Championships breaking his back in two places. Despite a determined attempt to return to top level rowing, his severe injuries prevailed.
Martin then devoted his energies to coaching and he produced many Australian oarsmen. He was an Australian under 23 coach for three years and the senior lightweight coach at the 1989 World Championships.
As an administrator, Martin initiated the development of Mercantile Rowing Club into an elite club and served on both the Mercantile and the Victorian Rowing Association Committees for some 15 years. Naturally he was elected a life member of Mercantile.
After his retirement from active rowing, he and Peter Philip, another great of Australian rowing, established a successful insurance agency business. He was an influential and popular person in the insurance industry. He was well respected by both underwriters and brokers alike for his outstanding technical knowledge and his imaginative and sophisticated approach.
After finishing his coaching career, he also turned his sporting attention to yachting and was a natural at this sport.
He will be sadly missed by many rowers over whom he had so much influence. The words of an early American President and Statesman, John Quincy Adams, are apt: If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.
With thanks to Andrew Guerin.