Mile 108 rower Gabe Bergen and members of his men’s eight 2012 Olympic silver-medal rowing crew were recently announced as winners of the Partners of the Year Canadian Sport Award.
The award recognizes the outstanding athletic performance and achievements of Canada’s finest athletes. Other nominees in this category were the Canadian rowing women’s eight 2012 silver-medal team and Canadian ice dance partners Scott Moir and Tessa Virtue.
The men’s eight edged out Great Britain for the silver medal in a dramatic final that saw Germany win the gold.
With Olympic success ticked off on his to-do list, Bergen says he’s currently taking a break from rowing and will now concentrate on finishing his education. He studies at University of Victoria and is 1 1/2 years shy of his education degree, with majors in physical education and biology.
“Over the last four years, I haven’t been able to do many classes. I managed maybe two per semester in 2009 and 2010.”
He plans to hit the books again in January.
Bergen says he’s been enjoying a rest since the Olympics, which has included joining his rowing team in attending a few different events.
“It’s been a while since I had a break and it’s definitely been nice. My body and my mind can use a break.”
As for pursuing a second Olympic rowing medal, Bergen says he’d like the chance to do it again if the conditions are right.
“I’d do it if we had the athletes and a good crew.”
If he does return, it will be under the leadership of Martin McElroy, new performance director responsible for the men’s program for Rowing Canada Aviron. His appointment came on the recent release of veteran coach Mike Spracklen who coached the men’s team to their silver medal and also led the men’s eight to Olympic gold in 1992 and 2008.
Bergen says he was disappointed to hear about Spracklen’s release.
“It’s too bad. He’s done so much for the program, but I guess they wanted a fresh start. There have been different reactions from athletes. Many of them feel he shouldn’t have been let go now.”