‘Focus like a laser beam’

Former Gaels rowers aiming for Queen’s first Olympic medal since 1996

Morgan Jarvis is currently competing in the 2012 London Olympics.
Image by: Supplied
Morgan Jarvis is currently competing in the 2012 London Olympics.

Two male rowers are building the Queen’s rowing team’s Olympic pedigree.

The last Olympic medal won by a former Gael was Diane O’Grady’s bronze in rowing at the 1996 Atlanta Games. Morgan Jarvis and Michael Wilkinson trained years ago at Queen’s under rowing head coach John Armitage, before qualifying for London.

“Focus like a laser beam,” Armitage said. “It’s that very unique ability to focus and block out distraction which made them successful.”

Armitage has been a Gaels rowing coach since 2000. He remembers the first week Jarvis and Wilkinson showed up on campus.

Jarvis, ArtSci ’05, MSc ’08 and JD ’10, graduated from the Gaels rowing program in 2005. He’s made his Olympic debut competing in the men’s lightweight double sculls.

“I didn’t know we had an Olympian on our hands, but I knew right from the get-go we had a special athlete,” Armitage said.

“[Jarvis] would like to have a beer the night before a race — that’s the New Zealander in him … [but] he’s got that ability to avoid unnecessary distractions, and concentrate fully on the task at hand.”

Wilkinson, ArtSci’08 and Sci’08, is competing in the men’s four boat. His sister Lauren is also competing in the Games, in the women’s eight.

“There’s a rowing pedigree in the Wilkinson family, so we knew we had a kid with rowing in his blood,” Armitage said.

Wilkinson’s father David earned a spot on Canada’s Olympic rowing team in 1980, before Canada joined an international boycott of the Games.

The Canadian men’s eight boat at the Olympics also carries a distinct local connection.

Six out of its eight members hail from Eastern Ontario. Armitage said the boat’s nickname in the rowing community is “the 416-613 crew” — representing the two area codes stretching between Ottawa and Toronto.

In the preliminary stage of competition in London, Jarvis’ boat placed 3rd in their heat, failing to qualify automatically for the semifinal. They’ve advanced to the repechage stage, where they have another chance to secure a semi-final berth.

Wilkinson’s boat races in the heats stage on Monday, July 30. The men’s eight are in the repechage stage after finishing last in their preliminary heat.


Jarvis, Olympics, Rowing, Wilkinson

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