Article courtesy of the Australian Olympic Committee. For more news click here
Alexander ‘Sasha’ Belonogoff of Australia’s men’s quadruple sculls is not fussed about the ‘favourites’ tag that the crew has been given ahead of the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.
The crew of Karsten Forsterling, Cameron Girdlestone, James McRae and Belonogoff won the two World Rowing Cup regattas in the lead up to the Games but the Rockhampton-born sculler is taking the tag in his stride.
“It’s quite a compliment to be branded the favourites, it is something that we have taken in our stride and it’s not something that has affected the training that we’ve been doing, or our preparation as such,” Belonogoff said.
“It certainly is a nice tag coming into the regatta, but for us it’s about nailing our processes and if we can do that then we’ll hopefully be somewhere up the front of the field come finals day.”
The crew, who is coached by John Driessen, took part in a training camp in Italy ahead of arriving in Rio and is feeling comfortable with its preparations.
“We’ve had a pretty good preparation over the last three few months and we’ve managed to have two pretty good regattas at the World Cups so it’s reassuring that what we have been working on has been paying dividends come race days,” added Belonogoff.
The Australians, while race favourites off the back of their two gold medals, are not complacent about the competition they’re set to come up against.
“It’s a pretty fierce field in the men’s quad, we’ve got the Germans who are the current Olympic and World Champions, we’ve got great crews from Estonia, Lithuania and Great Britain – so it’s a pretty tight field,” said Belonogoff.
“We just want to have our best race on the day and, wherever we fall, if we can have our best race possible, then we’ll be happy.”