Rowing to the fore
22 Aug 2017
A three-month sabbatical working with Rowing New Zealand to help prepare the New Zealand Junior Rowing Team for the World Rowing Junior Championships has re-energised Tony O’Connor’s passion for coaching at a national level.
Tony had particular responsibility for the junior men’s four and pair, but says there was a positive sense of cooperation and collaboration between all coaches and all crews. “I had six athletes directly under my control, but as coaches we all worked together, drawing on our individual strengths and spending time with each other’s crews. It was a really good team effort.”
The four went on to gain a silver medal and the pair came 5th in their respective finals at the championships, which were held in Trakai, Lithuania, from Wednesday 2 to Sunday 6 August.
Now back in Christchurch, Condells Housemaster, Mathematics teacher and rowing coach Tony is already looking forward to the start of the next rowing season and, along with his fellow coaches Henry Smith, Malcolm McIntyre and Andrew Taylor, training some experienced, some new, but all up-and-coming College rowers. He sees strong parallels between the skills required to be a good rowing coach and a good teacher. “I think there are many similarities: communication skills, building relationships, understanding what makes people tick, being able to get ideas across in a multitude of different ways. My philosophy is to teach the athlete – or student – to find their own way, give them the tools to teach themselves and, when they’re ready, hand over responsibility and watch them go.”