It’s a tough (rowing) life!


Como in Northern Italy is a beautiful city. It nestles around the famous Lake Garda and is hemmed in by hills and mountains. It has the usual Italian ornaments of a large and impressive Duomo, ruins going back to the Romans, and the well stocked emporia usual in Europe but with the goods displayed with typical Italian finesse.

I am here purportedly to lead a group of athletes at a snow camp. The aim is to fill the dead time between Christmas and the New Year rowing camp with good and varied training. Cross country skiing and snow shoe hiking are planned. We have made our base in the town and will drive to the snow each day.

The only hitch is that the snow hasn’t arrived yet. A warm autumn (Climate change anyone?) has ensured that the nearest snow to our base is too far to for it to be practical to train there. Plan B involves walking up and down hills of which there are plenty in the neighbourhood.

So here I am, living in a beautiful Italian city getting to walk in the hills which is something I much prefer ro skiing and able to enjoy food and city ambling in the evening. We have contact with local rower and are invited to Canottieri Lario, one of the many rowing clubs in the city for dinner. It is quite an experience. The clubrooms boast the usual training spaces but also a magnificent trophy room and lounge full of silverware and photos where we are serenaded by a whitehaired pianist. Not your standard rowing club. The upstairs restaurant serves a 3 course meal, with wine, for the princely sum of 15 Euros.

I can’t help thinking that it’s a tough old life being a professional rowing coach again and wonder if we should reassess our decision to retire to the wilds of Central Otago.

It doesn’t take the locals long to strike back. Nemesis (Greek and Roman goddess of fortune) must have heard me gloating. On theway home, during my driving shift, the weather changes and it snows. And snows. The trip home was not easy and the prospects for tomorrow are not good. Lots of snow, temperatures down to -15C are not good boat loading and trailer towing conditions. May be Central Otago is not such a bad idea after all.

P.S. Como is where Emma Twigg is training at the moment as she pursues her study goals and her disagreement with the NZL selectors.

Duncan Holland


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