|Karsten competing at the 2010 world championships in New Zealand (Photo: © Kevin Light)|
This week's video comes to us via the official YouTube Channel of the Olympics, which recently spent a week honoring the best athletes and performances on the Olympic stage.
The list created by the Olympics is purely based on medal table valuation, which is a good way to keep from having to have an opinion. And, the result is that the list of 'Top 5 Olympic Rowers' that the Olympic Committee has posted leaves off arguably the best rower of the modern Olympic era, Ekaterina Karsten.
The athletes included in this video are, in order of appearance, Kathrin Boron of Germany, Doina Ignat of Romania, Steve Redgrave of Great Britain, Georgeta Andrunache of Romania (tied with Redgrave for second place), and Elisabeta Lipa of Romania at no. 1 overall.
Karsten is a six-time Olympian, a double Olympic champion (women's single in 1996 and 2000), a six-time world champion, and continues to perform at the elite level at the age of 43, producing impressive results. She narrowly missed the podium in the women's single in London, where she finished fifth overall. And, most recently, she and double partner Yuliya Bichyk qualified for the Rio Olympics at the World Rowing Championships in Aiguebelette, France. That means, if all goes right, Karsten will be a seven-time Olympian. Let's repeat that one more time: A seven-time Olympian.
The only other rowing athlete to have competed at seven Olympic Games is Canadian women's coxswain Leslie Thompson-Willie, who's incredible career began at the Games in 1984 in Los Angeles. But that's not exactly apples to apples. In fact, there are only four endurance athletes in the history of the modern Olympics who have competed in as many seven or more Olympic Games: Eight-time Olympian German-Italian canoeist Josefa Idem Guerrini; seven-time Olympic cyclist Jeannie Longo of France; seven-time Olympian Seiko Ishizaki of Japan, who competed at both the Winter and Summer Games in speed skating and cycling; and seven-time track and field Olympian Jamaican-Slovene Merlene Ottey. That's a pretty short list, and in Ishizaki's case, there's kind of an asterisk, since it was over a compressed period of time.
The athletes in this video are amazing, and this takes nothing away from their performances. It makes sense to argue based on overall medal count and medal color, but it doesn't really reflect the whole truth. That is to say, it doesn't take away from the fact that when you're watching Karsten compete in Rio, you'll be watching a living legend, and possibly the best rower of all time.
Who are your top five rowers of all time?
Thanks to Beijing Olympic champion Kevin Light for the photo! You can check out more of Kevin's work via his website, kevinlightphotorgraphy.com.