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Bronze Medal at the World Rowing Coastal Championships

2013-08-26

Getting ready for the A-final

Getting ready for the A-final

It was the most emotional race of my life. Not only was it the World Rowing Coastal Championship in my home town. It was also a celebration to my greatest supporter - my mother, who passed away suddenly five months ago. Just over a month earlier we had spread her ashes spread in Öresund, the very water the Championships were held. To her memory I was wearing a pink armband (her favourite color). 

"For mom". The pink armband was a celebration to my mother and greatest supporter who died suddenly 5 moths ago

"For mom". The pink armband was a celebration to my mother and greatest supporter who died suddenly 5 moths ago

Leading up to the Championships had both had its ups and downs. In Febuary I was in the best shape of my life. I was performing very well on the erg (rowing machine) and felt unstoppable. After the tragic death of my mother in mid March, I struggled to find my way back. It affected my training. Not that I trained less, I just was not able to access my killer instinct. The first couple of regattas went very poorly. After the regatta in Copenhagen, I changed the focus of this years season to the WRCC. The only worry was, would I be able to change this trend in time 

Just after the start in the Mens 1x. Everyone fighting for a good position

Just after the start in the Mens 1x A-final. Everyone fighting for a good position

After Copenhagen something changed. I felt determend to perform well at the WRCC. Not only that it is a "Once in a lifetime oppurtunity" to row a World Championship in your home town, I knew that it was something that my mother would want. I started to do those VERY tough sessions again. Determined to fight my way back. 

In the upcoming weeks to the championship my racing shape was back on track. I felt strong. I got used to the tough and windy conditions which occured every day. Big and tricky waves made me want to pull even harder and faster.

"If there would be tough conditions - no one would be better prepared than me!" 

Checking to course as I´m heading for turning point #5

Checking to course as I´m heading for turning point #5

Ironically the wind faded during the championship and it would be very "easy" conditions. This meant that my local advantage of the usually rough water disappeared. Although disapointing, I disided to put no energy into the weather conditions. I was aware that light conditions could accur and this is certainly a factor I couldn´t control. I still had a shot on the top spots, but it would be tight and tough.

Painfull last sprint to the finish

Painfull last sprint to the finish

I started of very hard. With the first turning point only 1200m into the race, I knew that a slower start could easily destroy any chance of winning if the boats ahead screw up at the first turn. I was obviosly not the only one with this tactic. I was fighting for 2nd place with ESP02 to the first turning point. Wanting to avoid any collition I pumped up the stroke rate to 35 the last 200m. I got a clear shot of the turning point in time.

After the second turning point I was catching ITA04 who was leading. I felt strong in the head wind. The problem was that ITA01, Simone Martini, was going even faster and passed me heading towards turning point three and four.

At the long leg towards turning point five I was hoping to use my surfing abilities, but the waves were too small. This would be a true test of stamina, and I was starting to pay for my fast start.

Heading to turning point 6 I took a different course than my opponents. It was tougher against the wind, but a bit shorter in distance. My tactic didn´t play out as well as I hoped and I got passed by ESP04, Lars Gumprecht, and dropped down to third.

The last 1200m home stretch. I was pulling with everything I possibly had left. Energy running low. Every inch of my body hurting and screaming. My head deluding myself by saying "only 10 strokes to go" when it´s really nothing near to 10 strokes. 

I come up to the beach in third place. During the 50m sprint I can only recall an immense amount of pain, impaired vision and a big roar from the crowd. I passed the finish line in third place and collapsed in the sand. I had taken my third World Championship Medal.

From the left: Simone Martini (ITA), Lars Gumprecht (ESP), Peter Berg (SWE)

From the left: Simone Martini (ITA), Lars Gumprecht (ESP), Peter Berg (SWE)

Conclution. People ask me if I´m happy with my Bronze Medal. Under the circumstances, I must say that I am. I of course wanted to win, but with the emotional roller coaster that came with my moms death, along with not only competing as the home favourite, but also to organize a World Championship I am actually proud of my performance. I am also positive that if the weather conditions would have been rougher, I would have won it. But as the say, there is always next year ;-)