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McIntyre, Patten driven for Paris success as ARC 2023 looms

Rupert Guinness in Perth

The lustre of an Olympic Games gold medal is never lost on Annabelle McIntyre OAM. Every time she shows hers to people who ask, it triggers fresh motivation in the West Australian for the goal ahead: To win another at Paris 2024.

McIntyre, who won Gold in Tokyo in 2021 as a member of the Australian coxless Four, is now pursuing a second gold in Paris in the coxless Pair with Jessica Morrison OAM, one of her champion crew mates in Japan.

McIntyre believes she and Morrison can challenge in the Pair in Paris, despite the disappointment of missing out on the final in Tokyo where the event was rescheduled only hours after the Four’s final due to bad weather.

“It’s usually in its little box on a bedroom shelf. I don’t get to see it very often,” McIntyre said of her gold medal in Perth on Friday morning at the launch of the Australian Rowing Championships at the Champion Lakes Regatta Centre, to run from Monday, March 27 to Sunday, April 2.

Annabelle McIntyre OAM and Giorgia Patten at the launch of ARC 2023 in Perth. Photo: Travis Hayto, SoCo Studios.

“When it does come out, it’s a really good reminder of what is what we have achieved, and also of what we can possibly achieve in the future. We didn’t achieve all we wanted to achieve in Tokyo [in the Pair]. So, it is a very good reminder that there are still things to do. There’s work to be done.”

McIntyre believes the biggest challenge for her and Morrison by prioritising the Pair is adapting to a different boat speed. “The two boats are similar, you’re doing the same sort of rowing,” she said. “But there is a difference in the feeling of movement, of how you move and the way the boat moves. It’s adapting to that rhythm to try and maximise that.”

McIntyre is feeling the difference with a shorter turn around to the Games in Paris than what preceded Tokyo, where they were held a year later than scheduled in 2020 due to COVID.

“I am definitely feeling the time crunch this time,” McIntyre said. “It felt like we had heaps of time [leading up to the Tokyo Games]. That’s not anything to be worried about but it is definitely coming around very quick … short and sharp.”

Fellow Australian Rowing Team (ART) member and Tokyo Olympian, Giorgia Patten, concurs with McIntyre. “They are coming around round really quick,” she said of Paris 2024.

“We’re inside the 500 day mark. I feel like I just got back from Tokyo and we’re talking about this next run into Paris. Three years is a much shorter turnaround than the last cycle, with it being five years.

“It’s really exciting. We still have to qualify our boats this year to get to the Games next year. It’s a big year for us, but a really exciting place to be in.”

For the 2023 Australian team, Patten has been selected for the coxless Four. She was in the coxed Eight that placed fifth in Tokyo where she feels the lessons learned will help her in any boat she races. Patten also believes Australia’s depth augurs well for not only the Eight in Paris but all of the boat classes.

“There’s always a lot of emotion that goes into the work you put into an Olympic Games,” she said. “Coming home from Tokyo, there was a lot of disappointment towards the result of that race [the Eight]. So, we go back to the drawing board, as any athlete does off the back of a result, any result, let alone one that they feel like they fell short of their goal with.

“For me it was, how do we build from this? How do we learn from that so next time I race in any boat, let alone the next Olympic Games, we’re in a stronger position to achieve that goal? We have a really strong squad. We have a lot of women from Tokyo. There’s a lot of excitement and momentum moving towards Paris. I’m so proud to be in the [Australian] team this year. It’s ow we will set ourselves up for Paris next year.”

The announcement of the Australian Rowing Team (ART) by Rowing Australia before the Australian Rowing Championships does not take pressure off team members for next week. Some boat combinations are still to be settled and performances in Perth could impact those decisions. The pride of winning a national title cannot be underestimated, either.

“Anytime we go out to race, we want to put our best foot forward,” Patten said. “There’s a lot of excitement about racing in Perth this year. In those small boat combinations  our Pairs and Singles  everyone’s going, ‘I’m going to go out there and race as hard as I can’. 

We’re always trying to race to the best of our ability and to build on our race preparation and all the little things in and around racing that we want to get perfect come the big events like the Olympic Games.”

Rowing Australia be live streaming all of the action from Champion Lakes and have all of the colour, stories and live results on our dedicated website for ARC 2023.