#TBT: The Closest Rowing Race, Ever?
This week, we're throwing it back to 1989. (No, not because of Taylor Swift.) The 1989 Lucerne International Regatta (predated the World Cup) saw more than a few legends involved in the final of the men's pair with coxswain, not least of which the famed Abbagnale brothers of Italy—the most decorated pair-with combination ever—and rowing's most successful athlete, five-time Olympic champion Sir Steve Redgrave of Great Britain. While the Abbagnale brothers characteristically led through much of the body of the race, the field caught up to them in the final 100 meters, and, as the video shows, the difference between first and fifth place was just six tenths of a second, with just 0.10 seconds separating first through fourth place.
When the dust settled, the Abbagnale brothers had to tip their caps to Yugoslavia and East Germany (here listed as RDA instead of GDR because it's an Italian broadcast), while Redgrave and crew found themselves an unlucky fourth—truly a remarkable race. Below is a another video of the race, which includes the start, but is without commentary (just listen for the crowd's reaction as the crews approach the finish line).
'A game of inches,' indeed. Just in case you need some motivation for that last set of squats, or ten reps on the end of a weight circuit, or last 250m of your next 2k test. Also, you can take a closer look at the Abbagnales' approach in this technical rowing education video from the late '80s, which goes through every boat class, breaking down film of Olympians like Pertti Karppinen and Peter-Michael Kolbe.
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