Giving his best shot to get back in black

18:27, Dec 19 2012
Ian Seymour
Aiming high: Champion oarsman Ian Seymour, pictured in front of the Wairau Rowing Club, wants to wear the black singlet again.

If commitment and motivation, sprinkled with a fair dose of talent are the main ingredients required to succeed on the world sporting stage then Wairau rower Ian Seymour is certainly on the right track.

His commitment to the sport he loves was tested to the limit when he missed selection for the New Zealand summer squad this year.

He's already a seasoned international, having rowed in the men's eight which finished a creditable fifth at the 2010 world championships at Lake Karapiro and was in the four last year as they moulded a crew for the Olympics.

Ian Seymour
Aiming high: Champion oarsman Ian Seymour, pictured in front of the Wairau Rowing Club, wants to wear the black singlet again.

However, a rib stress fracture put him out of the boat for a while and he was unable to force his way back into a crew which ultimately never fired on sport's biggest stage.

Coming back to Wairau to row for the Central Region Performance Centre in Wairau colours was not as easy as it sounds.

He loves the atmosphere, the environment, the coaching expertise and the water in Marlborough but it wasn't a simple matter of moving camp from Cambridge.


He and his partner, Olympic silver medallist BMX rider Sarah Walker, bought a house in Cambridge. He misses her and the house and not being in the New Zealand squad means he's no longer paid a full-time wage to row.

Juggling part-time work in a vineyard with training and having to service a mortgage are challenges he could do without, but he's gritting his teeth and getting stuck in. "I'm learning a bit about myself and in a way it's been good for me. It's like I've been dropped in the deep end to see if I can swim.

"It's been pretty tough away from Cambridge and Sarah and the brand new house we've just built. I've never done rowing for the financial gain. I guess I'm realising what my passion is.

"I've had time to reflect on what I'm doing and how I'm doing it. I feel as though I've only been scratching my potential. [I have] So much more to give and learn."

Being smarter in the way he goes about rowing is an area he's working hard on, because passion for the sport is always something he's had in abundance.

"I want to do it for myself. Like anyone working, be proud of the job I can do."

Born in Johannesburg, Seymour moved to Australia in 1997 where he lived with his family for six years and that's where his interest in rowing began. Rowing for Ballarat Grammar school in Western Victoria was his foray into racing.

In 1993 he came to New Zealand and joined up with the Nelson Rowing Club.

In 2006 Seymour made the most significant move of his career so far, becoming an inaugural member of the Central Region Performance Centre, based out of Wairau, the club he joined up with a year later.

Other originals that year at Central RPC were Olympic champion Joseph Sullivan and triple world champion Duncan Grant.

Seymour's natural rowing talent and physical strength saw him thrive at Central under the expert tuition of head coach Mark Stallard and in 2009 he won a gold medal in the New Zealand four at the under-23 world championships in the Czech Republic.

His most memorable experience rowing for New Zealand so far came in 2010 as a member of the New Zealand eight at the world championships at Lake Karapiro.

"That was an amazing regatta. I can still remember the men's double scull went right before our final.

"Just before the start we could hear the crowd roaring 2000m away when Joseph and Nathan [Cohen] won."

Winning at the famous Henley regatta in London in the New Zealand eight which defeated Great Britain in the final was another highlight.

Seymour will row any boat he's selected in but the four is his favourite.

"I love the four. I just love how when you get four guys rowing well together you can feel what you are putting into the boat. Not like an eight, where if someone slacks off a bit it doesn't register the same."

While it's tough being left out of the national squad, being among so many talented young and aspiring international rowers at the Central RPC only fuels Seymour's motivation to get a New Zealand singlet on his back again.

"It's special to see a lot of young passionate rowers. It's humbling almost. That's what it's about. Not worrying about politics. They go to rowing, enjoy it and just want to make the boats go fast."

Having one of the world's best BMX riders as his partner helps and provides him with extra motivation and a close at hand sounding board.

"We learn from each other's mistakes. You can be going through the exact same thing in different circumstances and help each other through with ideas.

"It's so good to have someone who has a different perspective, not just another rower. She's been to the pinnacle and she knows what I'm going through."

Seymour's goals this season are very clear. He wants to add to his four national red coat titles and get back into the elite New Zealand squad. "The trials are in March and I'll be giving it my all, he said. "You have to do the best you can do and put it into the selectors' hands. Show them you've got what it takes."

The Marlborough Express