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The rise in the East – rowing in China

Rowing’s health in Asia is on the rise and that is good news for all of us who love the sport.

This is the second in a series of posts related to our recent consulting travels, the last one from India and this week’s coming to you from China. It’s fair to say that rowing in China has not been a priority  sport, even though at the elite end China gained FISA membership in 1973 and has since taken over 20 medals at world level events, almost entirely at women’s and lightweight events. Overall the involvement in the sport has been sporadic.

That is set to change with leaders in the corporate sector recognizing the many benefits of the sport to general health and valuing the ideals of teamwork, strategy, strength, commitment and competition that have such synergy with the business world. The shift is being driven by one of the world’s largest real estate groups, Vanke, and last week we were in attendance to enjoy one of their huge corporate regattas in Nanjing, whilst analyzing some of China’s young TID athletes, educating the leaders and coaches and speaking to the participants about injuries in rowing.

The Nanjing site was a pretty picture with lily-pads and the striking backdrop of the Purple Mountain behind the course. The zest for rowing and overall enjoyment of  competition was clear. These guys and girls love getting out of the office and onto the water! It was interesting for us to see that the previous approaches of talent ID, athlete analysis and effective athlete set up have probably lacked some of the sports science elements that the developed rowing nations see as normal but this is exciting, because we feel the impact that can be made is significant with a few  strategic tweaks and some ongoing and consistent education. Being set up properly for your needs and allowing athletes even the simple ability of using their own shoe size, which our ShoePlate Pro QuickRelease allows, will drop injury risk factors and enhance performance – at all ends of the sport this will improve the experience of rowing and hopefully help to foster the growth that is being seen at present.

One of the best experiences was analyzing an ex-elite and very passionate heavyweight male athlete based in Nanjing,, who had  been battling with injury concerns for many years. We found that he had a leg length difference and spinal movement dysfunction, which affected his ability to apply force symmetrically at the foot stretcher. After adjusting his set up with a custom set of shims from our CustomPack and giving him some movement strategies his force output was enhanced but most importantly, he felt a lot more balanced and stable. He told us “in 8 years of rowing no none has looked at this on me before.” If this leads on to a better rowing experience, less injury , more comfort and even more performance for this driven competitor then that will be a great reward – he will be the best type of advert rowing can have, a happy, healthy and passionate athlete who just wants to hit the water and will tell others to do so too.

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What does the future hold? Time will tell but we are excited to bring our products, consulting and expertise to this country as well as advice from other world leaders in all areas of rowing – more blades in the water means more people finding out why you will never find a dispassionate rower and when you have the world’s biggest population making a move you know it will be significant.

Thanks to Joe and the team at Pivot Point Sports for a great week.

Vanke Team