Olympic rower Marburg surprised to be named team player of the year

OLYMPIC rower James Marburg was a nominee for 2012 Ballarat Sportsperson of the Year but did not believe he was a chance to take home an award from last night’s Ballarat Sportsmen’s Club dinner.

Marburg announced his retirement from international rowing competition last year after finishing fifth in the men’s pair final at the 2012 London Olympics with Brodie Buckland. 

So it was a genuine surprise for the 30-year-old to be honoured with the Hollioake Medallion as the Ballarat team player of the year last night.

“It’s a great honour and very unexpected. I’m really surprised,” he explained.

“I know about the (Hollioake) award but I didn’t know I would win it.

“Perhaps it’s a bit more special in a way. I never raced as an individual. I always raced in a team.”

Marburg, an Olympic silver medalist in the coxless fours in 2008, said being from Ballarat was an advantage for a rower, especially as an Olympian, declaring that “if you row in Ballarat you’re actually a decent chance to go to the Olympics.”

“More so than a lot of other country towns,” he said.

“It is an advantage because everyone from Ballarat in the Olympic team identifies with being from Ballarat, and it gives you something in common. And we produce so many elite sports men and women.

“In rowing, in particular, there is Anthony Edwards, Christian Ryan, Paul Reedy, Chris O’Brien and Tom Swann, for example. Paul and Chris coached crews that won gold and silver in London and Chris is now head of Rowing Australia.”

Marburg has returned to Ballarat and is studying to be a lawyer. As for rowing, he insists he is taking a break.

“When I come back, as a coach or an athlete, I will be refreshed.”