A Smithers woman has returned home from an international rowing competition in Amsterdam.
Antje von Seydlitz finished in sixth place with the Canadian National Women’s Rowing Team at the 2014 World Championships from Aug. 24 to 31.
“Initially, it was a bit of a disappointment because we came second last year, but the competition was much tougher and everyone had gotten faster compared to last year. There was more depth across the whole field. All in all, top six was not too bad,” said von Seydlitz, noting that she also raced in the world championships last year in Korea.
Von Seydlitz was part of the women’s quadruple scull boat class along with fellow Canadian rowers Emily Cameron, Katharine Goodfellow and Carling Zeeman.
The team finished their two kilometre race in 6:16.
For von Seydlitz and the team, the challenge was overcoming the weather.
“The racing was pretty tricky because of the course, there was a lot of wind and just the way the course was placed, it results in a lane advantage,” she said.
“It’s an outdoor sport and weather isn’t something you can control and it was unfortunate, but I think if we were in a better lane we could have definitely been on the podium.”
Despite not racing as well as they hoped, von Seydlitz said the four-person team had been working on starting out of the gates faster all season and saw their efforts pay off in the final race.
“One of the things we’ve been working on all season is to be faster out of the gates,” she said. “After the World Cup races we went back to Ontario and we really worked on that. It was really exciting to see it work. We were right with the field in most of the races for the first 500.”
Von Seydlitz’s seat is called the stroke seat in the sculling boat. She is responsible for setting the stroke rate and rhythm.
The 23-year-old started rowing while she was completing her undergraduate degree at the University of Victoria.
“I came from a background of cross-country skiing and biathlon and when I went to UVic it was pretty difficult to continue that, but I needed something to fill that void in my life,” she said. “I just loved it, I had a really fun coach the first year.”
It wasn’t until 2009 when she attended the Canada Summer Games that she decided to try rowing on an international level.
“That’s the point where I thought, man, I really want to do this and take this internationally,” she said. “It was kind of like a mini Olympics, they had athletes and their athlete village. It was a pretty phenomenal experience.”
Since then she has rowed her way around the world with the Canadian team, travelling to Korea and Switzerland, among other countries.
John Keogh, the women’s performance director during the competition, said von Seydlitz displays a talent that not many athletes have.
“She’s got a real talent in her ability to feel the rowing boat and feel the water and not many athletes have that. She also has an ability to be very consistent in her stroke set,” said Keogh. “She’s quite a tough athlete, which is good for what we do,.”
For the young rower, it’s about seeing her actions pay off.
“It’s one of the first things that I found I put a lot of work into and the work that I put in, I could see the results,” she said. “If you have good work ethic, you see that payoff. It’s so rewarding and you just want to keep going and see how fast you can go.”
Up next is a winter of intense training at the national rowing facilities in London, Ontario and the Pan Am Games in Toronto next year.
But in the following years, von Seydlitz hopes to race on a much larger stage.
“Next fall the world championships will mark the start of Olympic qualification. That will be nerve-racking, but exciting,” she said.
“If we do well enough, the women’s quad will be qualified for the Olympics and that will be the next big step.”