SPORTS

Australia taking a gamble on its standout female rower as Kim Crow doubles up at London Games

07/26/2012 06:01 EDT | Updated 09/25/2012 05:12 EDT
WINDSOR, England - Rowing is such a draining sport that the body takes a battering competing in just one event.

Try, then, competing in two.

That's exactly what Kim Crow is attempting at the London Olympics after being selected in both the single and double sculls, an unprecedented exploit by an Australian.

The Aussies are taking a massive gamble with their standout female rower, who will be in action on six of the eight days of the regatta.

Crow, though, is relishing the challenge of being the only rower to double up at Dorney Lake.

"It's a decision we walked into knowing very well that we didn't want to sacrifice either one," the 26-year-old Crow said. "I actually think I'm really lucky that come finals day in both events, I will actually have had the opportunity to race in line up on the start line."

One of her main rivals for gold, Anna Watkins of Britain's double sculls lineup, is baffled by Crow's decision.

"I don't understand the logic with it," Watkins said.

"For us we can just watch it with bemused interest to see what she does."

Crow, the daughter of a former Australian Rules footballer, only found herself in this position by chance.

Following an injury to double-sculls partner Brooke Pratley, Crow decided to enter the final Olympic qualifying regatta in Lucerne, Switzerland, in the single simply for practice.

She won that qualification race and then finished second in the final World Cup events, convincing her that a medal could be won in both disciplines.

"It was after an accumulation of discussions, looking at the program and deciding whether it was achievable," Australia high performance director Andrew Matheson said. "We sat down ... and thought it was."

Watkins and partner Katherine Grainger are the outstanding favourites in the double, but Crow and Pratley should be in contention for a podium place. In the single, the field is large and very open.

"Clearly she would be just giving herself the best chance if she just did the double. Maybe it's more important to her to get two medals than one gold one? I don't know," Watkins said.

"If she won both then that would be amazing. No one has ever done it."

Crow has never been one to dodge a challenge.

Injuries forced her to quit athletics in 2005, having competed for her state of Victoria. She was persuaded to try rowing and it didn't take long for her to master.

"I definitely wasn't (someone who) jumped in a boat and knew how to row," Crow said. "But I really learned how to train and had a tenacity to improve. I had the skills to use the good rowers and good coaches around me to transition quite quickly into the sport.

"The real irony for me is that when I initially did switch sports, I remember thinking at the time there will absolutely be no way I want to row a crew boat. That I want to row the single and I don't want to have to bother with other people — that's a waste of time."

She started out, though, in Australia's eight, winning bronze in the 2006 world championship at Eton Dorney. Then she rowed in the pair with Sarah Cook before eventually turning to sculling.

She now finds herself as the poster girl of Australian rowing and with a chance to make history at the London Games.

"I think I'm just excited. It doesn't even feel all that different, to be honest," Crow said. "Business as usual."

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