- © RIA Novosti. Alexander Wilf
© RIA Novosti. Alexander Wilf
MOSCOW, June 20 (R-Sport) – Russian rowing officials on Thursday hired renowned British coach Mike Spracklen, who has guided 10 crews and two singles to Olympic medals, to revamp its struggling program ahead of the Rio 2016 Games.
Russia has not won an Olympic rowing medal since 2004 and only four since the dissolution of the Soviet Union, which was a consistent powerhouse on the water.
Spracklen was fired by Rowing Canada in October amid concerns his in-your-face style had become abusive, but said Thursday he had “several offers” to coach with other countries. He said he was drawn to Russia for the challenge.
“The rowing in Russia has not been strong, so it’s exciting to be helping someone,” he told reporters in Moscow.
Spracklen, 75, has also coached with the United States and Britain over a four-decade-long career. He was the longtime trainer of British rower Steve Redgrave, a five-time Olympic champion, as well as Silken Laumann, one of the best single scull rowers in Canadian history.
Spracklen led the Canadian men’s eight to gold at the 1992 and 2008 Olympics and guided them to silver in London last summer.
He will oversee Russia’s eight, which he called “the main event in rowing.”
“It’s the one to win,” he said. “It shows the world that a country is the leader, so that’s the one to go for.”