Eight is great but four could be more for Louloudis
LONDON – British rower Constantine ‘Stan’ Louloudis blushes at comparisons with Steve Redgrave and Matthew Pinsent but come August and the Rio Olympics he could emulate his great compatriots.
The 24-year-old won bronze as stroke of the British eight at the 2012 London Games but four years on he may be destined for the coxless fours — the same class that took Pinsent and Redgrave to gold.
Pinsent won two of his four golds in a four, including in Sydney in 2000 with Redgrave, who won golds at five successive Olympics.
“It could be the four. It hasn’t been confirmed yet, and it won’t be confirmed until after the final trials in pairs,” Louloudis, the former Oxford University Boat Club president and four times Boat Race winner, told Reuters.
“I really just want to be in the top boat, whatever is the top boat. Whatever is the top boat has a very good chance of winning,” added the double world champion at a media event hosted by British Rowing data partners SAS.
Those in the know suspect it will be the four once this month’s British trials are out of the way, even if Louloudis professed to be open-minded about a decision to be taken by the coaches.
“I think to win the eight would be fantastic, because that is what I was in four years ago so I’ve done the last few years and feel quite invested in it. And as an event it is the most prestigious one to win,” he said.
“But as an individual, it’s probably more prestigious to win (in) one of the smaller boats.
“The four would be great in that respect. It’s also an event the British have a lot of tradition with. Matthew Pinsent and Steve Redgrave won in it.”
Pinsent highlighted Louloudis’s potential long before the last Olympics, singling out the then-teenage classics student as a key man in the 2011 Boat Race.
“Stan is a fantastic asset to have in a crew,” he said then in a blog for the BBC, observing that the youngster had a “good engine” that allowed him to produce less of the burning lactic acid that tears at a rower’s muscles and mind.
“He’s going to be able to row harder for longer than most.”
Louloudis, who learned to row at the elite Eton College whose lake was used for the 2012 Games, categorically ruled out anything other than eights or fours despite talk a year or two ago of a venture into single sculls.
“I think I said something immediately post-Boat Race in 2014, which just got taken the wrong way. Absolutely not. Zero chance,” he said of that. “I actually fell in once doing it. The one time I did it. So not my bag.”
Falling into the water at the Brazilian Olympic venue is also to be avoided but Louloudis had no qualms about going to Rio, despite the threat of the mosquito-borne Zika virus and reports of polluted water.
“It’s certainly not something I’m thinking about a lot,” he said, speaking in the London Rowing Club against a backdrop of the fast-flowing Thames, where the annual Boat Race will again be staged on March 27.
Brazil, assuming nothing gets in the way of him taking part in the Games, will be much more of an adventure than rowing on home water.
In performance terms, Louloudis had no doubt that he was much stronger than in 2012 and could “really go for a gold medal this time” if in the top boat.
If that is the coxless four, then Britain will again be the likely favourites.
Under Juergen Grobler, the former East German coach who moved to Britain in 1991 and has coached crews to gold at 11 Games since Munich in 1972, the British men have won the coxless four at the last four Olympics. “There’s a lot of pressure from that which I haven’t quite yet experienced,” said Louloudis. “But I am much stronger.
“And then there’s the experience side of things. A home games in London was fantastic but it was also just down the road…there was almost something mundane about it. “It was fantastic and the whole venue felt transformed and it certainly didn’t feel like the lake I learned to row on. But to suddenly go half way around the world …and see Christ the Redeemer, the whole megacity around you, will be pretty thrilling.” -Reuters