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australian rowers profiles and history

John Cumper

South Melbourne Towing Club (VIC), Power House Rowing Club (VIC), Melbourne University Boat Club (VIC), Monash University Rowing Club (VIC), Banks Rowing Club (VIC), Essendon Rowing Club (VIC)

Rowing Athlete

1975 to 1982, State & National Championships KC 1980, 81, 82.

Rowing Coach:

VIS Rowing 1991 - 2008.

AIS Rowing 2007 - 2008.

State, National & Olympic Team 1985- 2008.

Banks RC & Ruyton Girls School 2009- 2011

St. Pats Ballarat 2012 - 2016 Ballarat College 2017 - Current.

John at the back with 2008 Australian team coaches

"My first involvement with rowing was in 1968 as a coxswain at South Melbourne Rowing club. Then rowing myself on and off until 1974 when I joined Powerhouse Rowing club. In 1975 I moved to MUBC and was coached by Chris Dane who was a big influence and supporter of my career. In 1978 a composite squad of MUBC and Monash was formed that had a lot of success through late 70's early 80's. I was very fortunate to be able to row with men like James Lowe, Bill Magennis, Tim Young, Brian Richardson, Kerry and Steve Jelbart, Martin Hunt, Will Baillieu, Andrew Holt, Ion Popa. I learnt a lot from those guys not only about rowing but also lessons about life and professional careers.

In 1983 a number of that squad transferred to Banks along with Chris as Coach. I had an injury that required surgery and that was the end for me. In 1984 Chris was unable to continue as coach and suggested I take over which I did. In 1985 I was selected as coach of the KC Crew with Brian Richardson as assistant.

We had a very successful season culminating with the Nationals at Ballarat and winning the Kings Cup. That was James Tomkins' win and started a record run of consecutive wins. I had qualified as a CPA and in 1987 could not commit the time to both rowing and my professional career so rowing went to the back burner. 

In 1990 Essendon rowing club asked me if I would be able to Coach their lightweight squad. I had just changed jobs and was working in Williamstown and Essendon Rowing club was halfway on the road home to Northcote so I accepted their offer and committed to 2 sessions per week. Within a few weeks I was hooked in again doing a full load. We had two good seasons in 1990 & 1991 that saw 4 athletes win State selection, National Championship and National selection regattas. 3 Athletes made the National Team in 1991 in the lightweight 8 and I was selected as coach.

I became the lightweight Coach in the newly formed VIS rowing program and in 1993 was employed in the full time role as Senior coach. I was seconded to the AIS in 2007 and 2008. I hoisted the white flag and returned my stopwatch in November 2008 and attempted a return to my accounting career. This was a somewhat forlorn attempt and around late 2009 Banks RC were looking for a Head Coach. Ruyton Girls School also row from the Banks shed and their Rowing Director Matt Wilson asked me to take on the Head Coach role their as well. I worked in those roles until November 2011. We worked hard at setting up a viable program at Banks and the Ruyton program was heading in the right direction. It's pleasing to see the success that both those Clubs are now enjoying, in particular the Ruyton first crew winning the National School Girls Quad this year.

In November 2011 I decided to move to Ballarat, the Mecca of rowing in Victoria taking on the role of Director of Rowing at St. Patrick's College. After another learning experience I departed the hallowed halls of SPC 2016 and moved across the road to Ballarat and Clarendon College as the Head Coach of the Rowing Program headed by a former colleague from the old VIS & RV days Ross Henderson ."

Sourced from 2018 Victorian Rowing Hall of Fame booklet.

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