ZIMBABWE’S Olympic rower Micheen Thornycroft has temporarily shifted her training base to South Africa as she steps up her preparations for the final qualifying phase for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil later this year.
BY sports reporter
Thornycroft, who represented the country at the London Olympics two years ago, will be based at the High Performance Centre, at the University of Pretoria — the leading sport science and training facility on the continent.
In an interview with NewsDay Sport, Thornycroft’s personal trainer, local fitness guru Grant Mitchell said the 27-year-old sculler, who is aiming to reach the A-Final in Rio would train with South Africa’s top rowers while in South Africa.
“The objective for Micheen is quite simple. Make it into the A Final at the Rio 2016 Olympics. In order for her to do this it became a realisation that she had to become a full time rowing professional,” said Mitchell, the high performance director at Innovate High Performance Center where Thornycroft was based while in Zimbabwe.
“Her move to Pretoria to join the South African team in training at the High Perfomance Center (HPC) I believe is the right move and the time is right. Any later and the progressions could have been negated,” he said.
Mitchell, who has worked with Thornycroft for the past two years as her strength coach said he was impressed with her work ethic and was confident she would achieve her goals and make the country proud.
“She is a true Olympian, a true Zimbabwean and a true sports-professional. It has been an amazing experience to work with her for the past two years and what we have achieved with her at the Innovate High Performance Centre has given her the physical and mental platform from which to take to the next stage. Her training ethic is second to none and I have no doubt that she will make a success of her time in SA and in doing so achieve the goals we set years back.
“As her strength coach it has been amazing to see how she can handle the programming and the challenges. Make no mistake, there were moments of doubt and difficulty, but that is par for the course at an elite level where the stakes and pressures are so much higher. She will do Zimbabwe proud, mark my words,” he said.
Thornycroft will take part in his first rowing regatta of the year at the Paolo D’Alorja International Rowing Regatta in Piediluco, Italy from April 10-12.
The former Peterhouse College student then shifts her attention to the South African Rowing Championships at the end April later that month before the World Rowing Cup III set for July 10-12 in Lucerne, Switzerland.
Her first chance towards qualification for the 2016 Olympics will however come at the 2015 World Rowing Championships to be held in Aiguebelette, France from August 30 to September 6 where she will need to finish in the top nine to qualify for the final Olympic qualifier.