A wonderful English lecturer of mine once said that to know good writing you have to read good writing. How else will you recognise it?
I think the same is true of rowing—to know good rowing you have to watch good rowing.
Thomas Lange, one of the greatest single scullers of all time, is my favourite to watch. Whenever I see him in a race, I can’t take my eyes off him. I love his easy style.
I know you don’t have to row beautifully to win races—I see some of the current top male single scullers breaking their arms early or rowing what looks to me like 3/4 slide (ok, these guys are tall).
And watching the current crop of female single scullers, I just don’t get that feeling where I can’t stop—don’t want to stop—looking at their every move.
“Technically peerless” is how Martin Cross described Lange in 2004 [PDF].
I have watched this video of Lange so many times that I now have to watch it with the sound muted:
Jürgen Grobler, former East German coach and current Great Britain coach, had this to say about Lange:
“You knew Thomas had a good feeling for the boat. His blades entered the water incredibly quickly, like Ivanov, the Russian, who won 3 sculling Olympic Golds in the ‘50s”.
You’ll see lots of Lange in this video of the 1989 World Championships in Bled (a bit blurry and/or foggy, Italian commentary):
Here’s a shorter snippet of Lange in the same race (English commentary):
And, finally, here’s Lange in the Olympic semi-final, Barcelona, 1992 (French commentary):
If you know of other good Lange videos, just add a comment below.
Or let me know who your all-time favourite is.