LONDON. Beijing was an unmitigated disaster for rowing world champion Anthony Edwards, but there’s no thought of burying bitter memories in London – he’s already done it.
Edwards flew into Heathrow on Sunday, the oldest oarsman in Australia’s 46-strong team, for his fifth Olympic campaign four years after giving up the sport in disgust following his forgettable fourth.
The three-time Olympic medallist’s highly-rated lightweight fours crew, plagued by sickness and injury, wilted in the Beijing heat and crashed out in the semi-finals.
Retirement was not enough for Edwards, then 35, and having rowed in pain with broken ribs, to overcome the worst regatta he’d experienced.
Edwards, who grew up and developed into an Olympic rower in Ballarat before making a move to Tasmania, put pen to paper, took a long walk in the bush near his Molesworth home, found a big rock and buried the frustration and disappointment.
“I came home from Beijing and just wanted to forget about it,” he said.
“I didn’t know how to do it so I wrote a six-page letter and walked out into the bush and mentally put everything under this rock.
“Everything that could go wrong did go wrong. We had injury, we had sickness and dealing with extreme conditions – it was pretty forgettable.
“I just had to bury it and get on with life.”
Get on with life he did for almost a year before being encouraged back by former New Zealand coach Brett Crow, a decision which has paid off in spades.
Four national titles in 2009, a silver medal at the 2010 world titles and one better last year with the “Mighty Lighties” leading to an Australian rower of the year gong.
The 2011 world title in Slovenia broke his 18-year drought of never claiming gold at a major international regatta.
Rowing Australia has targeted three gold medals for the London Games and Edwards’ lightweight fours, joint favourites with Great Britain, are among the best chances with the men’s four and men’s double sculls.
Flying in for what will be an emotional swansong, he admitted there was just one more box to tick.
“I’ve just got one medal to go and one more regatta,” he said.
“I look back now and what’s happened in the last few years because I’m just so glad I did keep going because I may have left the sport with a negative thought on my rowing. Now I feel whatever happens it’s been really good to me, my family and my life.”