Silver medalists behind USA at last year’s world championships, the Canadian rowing women’s eight not only want a medal in London, they want the podium’s top spot. Photo: Steve Martin / COC
Event: Women’s 8+
Residence: London, ON
Associtions: Ottawa Rowing Club, University of Ottawa
Previous Olympics: First
By Katherine DeClerq
A two-time World Championships silver medalist, women’s 8+ rower Cristy Nurse is Ottawa’s best bet for a podium position in London, but a bad back may derail those hopes.
The University of Ottawa law student is nonetheless delighted to have earned the nod to representing Canada and the capital at the ultimate international sporting event.
“I love Ottawa, both the city and my law school, so I am very proud and excited to go into the Games with an Ottawa connection,” Nurse says in an e-mail to the Ottawa Sportspage
Nurse has always been athletic, having competed for her varsity basketball team while doing her undergraduate degree at the University of Guelph. However, having grown up watching the Olympics and rowing in particular, Nurse decided that she had to try her hand at it, so she joined the Don Rowing Club in Mississauga six years ago. Her potential soared as her first coach Paul Westbury predicted that she would be an Olympian one day.
Nurse, who represents the Ottawa Rowing Club, completed her first year of law at uOttawa before moving to London, Ont. to train full-time with the national team in the lead-up to the Olympics. The 25-year-old came within one second of beating the U.S. at the 2011 World Championships and is now determined to put Canada on the podium in London.
“I don’t think any World Cup, World Championship, or other event can truly prepare you for the magnitude of an Olympic Games, but I have a very experienced crew,” Nurse highlights. “Obviously our expectation is to bring home a medal, and we’re all excited to see how much speed we’ve gained since the World Cup circuit ended about a month ago.”
Training has intensified over the last two years in preparation for the Olympics. Nurse explained that a typical day of training would include two 90- to 120-minute sessions of on-water rowing, plus core-strength training.
Nurse would like to continue this intense regimen right until race day, however she has experienced a setback with a disc injury that has affected her motion and stability. While this currently impacts her training, Nurse is confident that the healing process will allow her to be back on the water with a week or two to spare before the Games.
“At this point, it’s unclear whether I will be able to race,” she notes. “But I remain hopeful in the rehab work I am doing and [am] very confident in the solid training I have behind me.
“Obviously I want nothing more than to be in the boat that I was named to, but at this stage it’s one day at a time and about checking off all the boxes on the route to recovery.”
With the support of family and her two coaches Stu MacKenzie and Roger Meager, Nurse remains positive and optimistic about her recovery. Until told otherwise, she is planning to surprise us all come July 27.
“London represents the culmination of all the hours of work and dedication that have taken me from novice in 2006 to Olympic nominee six years later,” Nurse adds. “It’s a chance for the Canadian women’s 8 to return to the Olympic podium for the first time since Sydney, and I am so proud and excited to have been a part of the process.”
Sun., July 29 – Heats, 5:50 a.m. ET
July 31 – Repechages, 4:50 a.m. ET
Thu., Aug. 2 – Final, 6:30 a.m. ET