Glenn aims for return trip
Matthew Glenn's trip to win a World University Championships medal in Russia was a long, taxing one - now he wants to go back next year.
The Waikato rower won bronze in the men's single sculls final in Kazan earlier this month, capping an impressive recovery after suffering a significant head injury in an accident in 2008.
The Waikato University graduate also showed plenty of fight in what was shaping to be a miserable 24th birthday to eventually finish behind Ukraine's Sergii Gumennyi and Mexico's Patrick Loliger (15th at the London Olympics single sculls) and ahead of the hosts' Artem Kosov, who was part of the Russian men's quad that contested the 2010 world championship A final at Lake Karapiro.
"I almost missed out - it was my birthday the day before and I had to row in the repechage," Glenn said. "It wasn't looking good for me then - the first two went into the final and I was in third place. But I didn't want my birthday to be like that so I kept pushing and made it in."
Despite the handicap of a big tail/crosswind in the final, which left him exposed at the start in lane one, Glenn stayed with the leaders in a tight race until the first two established a gap with 500 metres remaining.
"I just tried to hang in there. I got some distance from the Great Britain guy with about 300m to go and then passed the Russian with maybe 50m to go.
"When I crossed the line I thought I may have got it but really had no idea for sure. Then the umpires' boat came across and they pointed at me and then to the podium."
Glenn's first major international success came four years after his injury, which occurred four days before he was to fly out of New Zealand with the national under-21 rowing team.
Glenn lost 10 kilograms, dropping to 78kg, and took "three or four months off rowing" as he battled to get back to his best. He said his university work suffered more. "The headaches came along easily, especially when it came to studying. Exam time would destroy me - I'd go downhill pretty fast."
But along with fitting in 11-12 training sessions each week, Glenn graduated last year with a Bachelor of Science, majoring in earth science, and this year is doing a graduate diploma in management.
Glenn's coach, Mike Gilbert, said: "It was a special achievement for him.
"He's a real competitor at heart - he would die trying. He's a tough nut and he stepped up in the final - it was the best race I've seen him have."
The Gallaghers-sponsored rower will be eligible to compete at the same venue next year and is planning to return.
"The World Uni Games were supposed to be in Spain this year but they pulled out, so Russia stepped in as a test run for next year," Glenn said. "I don't know if I'd be back in a single or another boat, but it would be very cool to go back and try and end up on the podium again and get silver or gold."
Before that, he's aiming to make the Waikato Regional Performance Centre squad this season after last year winning a national premier title in the coxed four - alongside Olympic gold medallist Eric Murray and Murray's fellow Waikato RPC members Tyson Williams, James Dallinger, Andrew Healey and cox Caleb Shepherd - while a member of the Waikato Rowing Club.
From there, a step up to the national elite training squad is the next goal.
Gilbert believes Glenn has the potential for more success.
"I may be a bit biased but I think he deserves an opportunity to take some steps up," Gilbert said.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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