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australian rowers profiles and history

Angus Widdicombe

Mercantile Rowing Club (VIC)

Some rowers are drawn to the finesse and touch of small boats, some others seek the power, speed, excitement, risk and difficulty of getting an eight to fly through the water. Gus is in the latter camp with a compelling desire to utilise his skill, power and enthusiasm to race successfully in eights. His desire to race in the eights at the 2024 Olympic Games is compelling and his description of the Australian eights progress towards this aim is enthralling. Interestingly, he also has an interest in coxed pairs, a boat the rest of us hate. Perhaps it is the ability to use his power and the difficulty of getting this difficult boat class to work well? More likely is that he won his first world championship medal in that boat class.

Gus started his rowing during his schooldays at Geelong College, finishing in the six seat of their first crew in the last two years of his schooling.

After a year at home in Geelong, he realised that he needed to move to Melbourne if he was to serious about his rowing.  He choose Mercantile and had success in the six seat of the Victorian youth eight at the Interstate Championships in his first year. The rest was a rapid rise through under 23, then open competition, picking up plenty of experience and medals along the way. 

Despite his rapid rise and the breadth of his experience, he remains as enthusiastic and energetic as ever. In 2023, he is a believer that the Australian eight will win despite the favoritism of Great Britain and The Netherlands. As an older oarsman in the National Training Centre, he has become a leader and setting good examples for the newer members of the squad.

Aims: This season to medal in the eight and qualify the boat for the Olympic Games. Next year race in the winning eight at the Paris Olympics. Post Olympics? The shorter 1500m course at LA will suit him superbly and so he is sorely tempted. "I have been in front at the 1500m mark more often than at the 2000m." Balancing that temptation is getting on with his rest of his life and responsibilities of family and a career.

Above: 2015 Winning Victorian King’s Cup crew – Angus is far right

Gus stroking a pair which pushed the World and Olympic Champions the Sinkovic bothers to the limit in the final of the silver goblets at HRR

2019 Men's Eight stroked by Gus - this image taken at the start of the World Cup in Rotterdam

After the Tokyo Olympic Games in 2021, Gus took time off to focus on his environmental science degree and get employment experience with Sykes Racing. It was necessary on so many levels, and in particular, to recharge the batteries. He returned with greater enthusiasm and a greater love for the sport than before. His return towards the end of the 2022 domestic season was successful and he went straight into the NTC. After discussions with the coaches, he obtained a clear understanding of what was required. He returned as a refreshed and mature athlete amongst a younger group of rowers. By this stage of his career, he had been in Australia's fastest eight and some less so. [The fastest was the 2018 Plovdiv crew which is the third fastest time ever - 5:19.25 in their heat. They finished second to USA who finished in 5:19.20. Their middle 1000m in the final did not match their capabilities.] He finished the 2022 season with a worthy bronze with the younger crew.

In 2023, he continues to build his aerobic base with a lot of cross training, mostly on the bike.

Standout races? (When asked in 2015, the 2015 King’s Cup. Loved the chance to race and win with the senior oarsmen. Also the 2014 Interstate Youth Eight win, coming from behind to win in a tough race.) In 2023, he has plenty more memorable races. The 2021 King's Cup win in a boat he stroked "is still up there". During his development years, he looks back with fondness on his successful local under 23 racing with rowers such as Liam Donald and the belief shown by his coach David Pincus. At the World Championship level, his three medal winning races stand out of course. In particular his first in the coxed pair and also the 2018 Plovdiv eight mentioned above. They messed up the middle thousand and then through great grit and belief, laid down a blistering last 500m to regain silver. His discussions about Henley Royal Regatta racing shows a soft spot for that regatta and his racing there.

Message for younger rowers? "Enjoy it. If it becomes a chore, you lose the energy and attention to detail." He also goes onto say that every rower needs to understand their strength and weaknesses. Play to you strengths and work on the weaknesses.

Why rowing? Team output, mateship, winning, where hard work counts and is rewarded. This statement goes a long way to explaining his love of the eight.

He is grateful for the role of his time in club rowing. "It provided the platform and community to get into rowing, and also enabled entry into the NTC."... "It is not the facilities or equipment, but the people around you. It is all about people - the culture, support and holding everyone to account. It never the facilities."

Throughout our discussions, the theme of being grateful for all those who have supported him and contributed to his career stood out. It was a great pleasure to speak with Gus.

Known rowing record

2011 – Geelong College First VIII, six seat - Final B
2012 – Geelong College First VIII, six seat – Fourth
2013 – Rowing with Barwon and Mercantile in youth and other events
2014 – Moved to Melbourne and raced in Mercs Youth Eight
2014 – Interstate Championships – Men’s Youth Eight, six seat – First
2014 – Henley Royal Regatta – Thames Cup – Semi finalist
2015 – Interstate Championships – King’s Cup, four seat – First
2015 – National Championships – Under 23 Pair – Third
2015 – National Championships – Under 23 Coxed Four – First
2015 – Henley Royal Regatta – Thames Cup – Quarter finalist
2016 - National Championships, Under 23 Pair, stroke - First
2016 - National Championships, Under 23 Four, three seat - First
2016 - World Under 23 Championships - Men's Eight, seven seat - Eighth 
2017 - National Championships, Men's Pair, stroke - Eighth
2017 - National Championships, Men's Four, 2 seat - Third
2017 - Interstate Championships, King's Cup, four seat - Second
2017 - World Cup 2 - Men's Eight, four seat - Fourth
2017 - World Cup 3, Men's Four, stroke - Eleventh
2017 - World Championships, Men's Coxed Pair - Silver
2018 - National Championships, Men's Pair, stroke - Sixth
2018 - National Championships, Men's Four, three seat - Third
2018 - Interstate Championships, Men's Eight - Second
2018 - World Cup 2, Men's Eight, two seat - Fifth
2018 - World Cup 3, Men's Eight, stroke - Second
2018 - Henley Royal Regatta, Silver Goblets, stroke - Second
2018 - World Championships, Men's Eight, stroke - Silver
2019 - National Championships, Men's Pair, stroke - Sixth
2019 - National Championships, Men's Four, stroke - Second
2019 - Interstate Championships, Men's Eight, stroke - Second
2019 - World Cup 2, Men's Eight, stroke - Fifth
2019 - World Cup 3, Men's Eight, stroke - Sixth
2019 - World Championships, Men's Eight, stroke - Fourth
2020 - Interstate Championships, Men's Eight, stroke - race not conducted due to COVID-19 pandemic
2020 - World Championships - not conducted due to COVID-19 pandemic
2021 - National Championships, Men's Pair, stroke - Fourth
2021 - National Championships, Men's Four, stroke - Fifth
2021 - Interstate Championships, Men's Eight, Stroke - First 
2021 - Olympic Games, Men's Eight, Stroke - Sixth 
2022 - National Championships, Men's Pair, stroke - Fifth
2022 - National Championships, men's Four, stroke - Third
2022 - Interstate Championships, King's Cup, six seat - Second
2022 - World Cup 2, Men's Eight, four seat - Second
2022 - World Cup 3, Men's Eight, four seat - Second
2022 - World Championships, Men's Eight, five seat - Third
2023 - National Championships, Men's Pair, bow - Second
2023 - National Championships, Men's Four, two seat - Second
2023 - Interstate Championships, King's Cup, stroke - Second


 Andrew Guerin Oct 2015 (updated 2022 and 2023)

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