I met Simone 2019 at the world’s in Linz, Austria. As a single sculler, he had just qualified for the 2020 Olympics for Italy and was full of joy. His many fans were excited and cheered all over the Linz regatta court. Many things have changed since then. The virus entered his country and the political measures effected his life. Athletes wear gloves or masks during pre-training and social distancing happens in the clubs. I talked to Simone last week about his present situation and his rowing plans for the next months.
Change of Plans Interview with Simone Martini
Tom: Simone, you are World Coastal Rowing champion and you also qualified in your single sculler for the Tokio Olympic Games. I can imagine, many Olympian Athletes are affected by the present situation. Even some countries are relaxing the Covid 19 measures, is a normal life for a rower presently possible?
Simone: The Italian government was facing the pandemic step by step and these different phases are mainly dictated by the number of people infected. In the so-called “phase zero”, the first phase, sport activities for professional athletes were allowed. Then, as the number of infections progressed, a total lockdown phase took place. In this lockdown phase (phase 1) only home workouts were allowed. Now we have moved on to phase 2 in which individual sport activities are allowed. So, speaking about rowing, we can only train in the single scull. Fortunately, to my knowledge, no COVID-19 cases occurred within the national team. When we restart training together in the training camp, we will undergo some medical exams to verify our state of health.
Tom: I guess all this came very surprisingly. How did the Italian Rowing Federation react? Were there particular actions?
Federation support: Ergo and bike
Simone: In order to keep on training during phase 1, in which we could only train at home, the Italian Federation gave us an ergo and/or bike and other materials such as weights, elastic bands. Now that we are in phase 2, we can also train on the boat. I’m rowing with my single scull in my club, Canottieri Padova, twice a week and the other days I keep training at home.
Tom: How does the coaches keep contact with the athletes? Do yo get weekly plans, how do coaches measure performance and data?
Simone: The head coach has set up a monitoring of two workouts to be done every week on the ergo. Every two weeks he provides a different work schedule in order to avoid the boredom associated with a repetitive training schedule. We manage to keep in touch with the coaches and the rest of the national team through video calls. We also use a Whatsapp group to share images and funny moments among members of the national team.
Tom: Are there any direct personal affects on the lockdown situation? How is it for you not to meet your athletes friends?
Simone: I have been very lucky. During the quarantine I managed to train together with my girlfriend (Alessandra Patelli who is also an Olympic athlete) in her house in the countryside where we had enough space to equip a gym. Normally, we train with the ergo 4/5 times a week. It has not been easy to train so often with the ergo, especially on sunny days. I prefer, as I believe everyone does, to train on the boat.
Change of Plans
Tom: You were qualified for the 2020 Tokio games. All this has been postponed. Some athletes have stopped with training and started the professional or university career. How did the virus change your life and your future plans?
Simone: I’m a PhD student of Marine Science/Naval Engineering and I’m a member of the HyMoLab laboratory at the University of Trieste. My studies will end in October 2020, so, for me, this “change of plans” complicates things a bit regarding my future access into the world of work. I hope I’ll be able to carry on both, training and work, and will not be forced to make a choice between my career and my Olympic dream. Since I’m not a professional athlete, I don’t receive any salary to practice my sport so I hope to find some sponsors who will support me for this year until the Olympics.
Simone Martini startet rowing in 2004 at Canottieri Trieste, a small club in his hometown Trieste. His 1st international race was at the U23 World Cup in 8+.
He changed clubs in 2012 and joined Canottieri Padova. Thanks to the help of his new club and new coach Alberto Rigato, Simone managed to improve his rowing technique and started a successful international career. After participating in numerous university World Championships and Universiade in various boats, he decided to row the single sculler. Since 2017 he is one of Italy’s top international rowing athletes, successful in numerous international competitions in the single scull. In Linz 2019, he qualified with great joy for the Olympic games in Tokyo.
Besides the Olympic rowing, he since 2011 he took part in every World Championship in Costal Rowing. In this specialty he won 5 world medals, one of which was gold in 2017 in France. He really likes this new rowing branch and hopes it will soon become an Olympic discipline.