Dublin Crew Team member Will Stanhope of Nassau, Bahamas spent two and a half weeks this summer rowing at the 2016 World Rowing Championships in Rotterdam, Netherlands. With only five weeks of experience and training in rowing a single skull, Will was competing against the best rowers in the world. He said that while he felt prepared after six hours a day of grueling and focused training, his first draw featured an intimidating lineup including the US, Denmark, Hungary and Italy. Fighting a chest cold, his last thoughts in approaching the line was in “not embarrassing my country.”
One of his five coaches told him to just try and stay in contact with the US boat. Sprinting from the start, Will did better than that, matching strokes with the US entry through 500 meters, then 1000 meters and matching bows at the 1500 meter mark. At the sprint, the US entry pulled away, but the race made Will believe that he could compete with the best.
Since he didn’t finish in the top three of his heat, he then entered a repechage race in order to advance to the quarterfinals. Encouraged by his showing against the major powers, Will cruised to a 10 second victory over four other country’s entries. Will competed through the quarter, semifinal and the FD finals, ultimately finishing the World Championships in 22nd place overall.
The World Rowing Championships allowed Will a lot of opportunities: meeting and competing against rowers from around the world; putting in the effort needed for high level success; getting the attention of college coaches; and, filling his closet with Bahamian Olympic garb. At the end of the day though, Will said, with a twinkle in his eye and a laugh, that the “highlight was not coming in last in any of my races”.