By DANIEL LO SURDO
With a much-anticipated Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games set to begin in the coming months, five Inner West based rowers are set to make their mark on the global stage.
To commemorate the occasion, the Independent has profiled all five rowers that will represent both the Inner West and Australia in the Japanese capital.
Thomas Birtwhistle is a member of UTS Haberfield Rowing Club, where from Dobroyd Parade, he has continued to progress and build his performances for Tokyo.
At the 2021 Australian Rowing Championships, Birtwhistle took gold in the PR3 Men’s Single Sculls with a time of 7:39.75, beating out Tokyo 2020 crewmate James Talbot in the final.
In June this year, Birtwhistle joined Kathryn Ross and Simon Albury at the Final Paralympic Qualification Regatta in Gavirate, Italy to meet classification and eligibility requirements for the PR3 Paralympic rowing category. Whilst in Italy, Birtwhistle took out the PR3 Men’s Single Sculls event at the International Para-Rowing Regatta, which ran alongside the Final Qualification Regatta.
Now with a Paralympic campaign looming, Birtwhistle will look to capitalise on his rich vein of form in Tokyo.
James Talbot began his rowing career in the Inner West with Balmain Rowing Club, before moving on row with Sydney University Boat Club and the New South Wales Institute of Sport.
Talbot will be the other male representative to join Birtwhistle in the Australian Mixed Coxed Four boat – with the pair united by similarly enduring roots to the Inner West.
Talbot started rowing in high school, however gave up the sport after finishing his secondary studies. It wasn’t until he was involved in a serious motorbike accident resulting in permanent damage to his hand and wrist that he picked up an oar again, with his injuries preventing the possibility of playing contact sports.
The 28-year-old first made his Australian team debut at the 2018 World Championships, where as part of the Men’s Pair, finished second.
Outside of rowing, Talbot works as a foreign exchange dealer in the financial markets.
Coached by Lizzi Chapman, Talbot will now be fixated on registering an eye-catching Paralympic debut campaign.
After only taking up the sport in May of 2017, UTS Haberfield Rowing Club’s own Georgie Rowe has enjoyed a rise to the Olympic stage that very few could replicate.
A native of Sydney’s Northern Beaches, Rowe first decided to begin rowing after being crowned national champion at the 2016 Australian Indoor Rowing Championships. With a lengthy background in surf ski paddling and surfboat rowing, Rowe’s flat-water talent was first nurtured by David Gely and Tim McLaren at the UTS Rowing Club.
With strong performances continuing to mount from Dobroyd Parade, Rowe earned selection to her first Australian Rowing Team in 2018, where she won bronze in both the World Rowing Cup 2 and World Championship regattas as part of a fierce Women’s Eight crew.
Initial displays in an Australian outfit secured Rowe’s continued selection in the national crew. The 28-year-old won gold and silver respectively in the 2019 World Rowing Cups 2 and 3 while winning silver in the World Championships.
Ahead of Tokyo, Rowe has been training in Rowing Australia’s National Training Centre to optimise her preparation and train alongside her crewmates growing increasingly expectant of a strong Olympic regatta.
Away from the water, Rowe enjoys meditating, yoga, reading, surfing and drinking coffee. She is also a registered nurse.
As another member of the UTS community, Nicholas Lavery will be targeting a memorable showing for a strong Men’s Eight crew in Tokyo.
Lavery first wore Australian colours at the 2019 U23 World Championships, where in a Men’s Four crew along with Marcus Britt, William O’Shannessey and younger brother Rohan, Lavery finished ninth. Experience on the international stage provided Lavery greater exposure to the world’s best young rowers before arriving back in the UTS Rowing sheds on the Parramatta River.
The following year saw Lavery accept his invitation to Rowing Australia’s Reinhold Batschi National Training Centre in Canberra, with ambitions to forge an Olympic debut atop the Wesley College alumni’s move to the nation’s capital.
Now with a year under the top rowing infrastructure in the country, and previous experience in international competition, Lavery looks poised to mark an impressive performance in Tokyo.
While Lavery isn’t training or competing, the Melbourne native enjoys music, writing and meditating.
Joining Lavery in the Australian Men’s Eight boat will be fellow UTS Rowing Club member Timothy Masters.
After graduating from Princeton University in America with a Bachelor’s degree in Military & Political History, Masters returned to Australia in a bid to qualify for the Men’s Eight at Rio 2016.
While Masters couldn’t gain qualification for the Brazilian-held Olympics, the now 29-year-old became a regular fixture in the Australian national team the year prior, with the Melbourne native collecting silver medals in both the 2017 and 2018 World Rowing Cup 3 while also finishing second in the Men’s Eight final of the 2018 World Championships.
During this period, Masters joined Rowing Australia’s National Training Centre in Canberra.
A brief switch to the Men’s Fours in the 2019 season earned Masters gold in the World Rowing Cup 2 and 3 before a sustained return to the Eights competition for the 2021 season.
Masters lists Hanover in New Hampshire, USA, as his favourite place to compete, and enjoys reading, music and cycling in his spare time.