Super sub Obee helps Canada to silver at rowing worlds
It was a pretty daunting assignment for 19-year-old rower Patricia Obee: Replace a reigning world champion and help Canada qualify for the Olympics.
Lindsay Jennerich, Obee's partner in the women's lightweight double for the world championships in Bled, Sloevnia, had felt the national team rookie was more than up for the task. The woman she was subbing for, the injured Tracy Cameron, voiced similar confidence.
Turns out they were 100 per cent right about Obee.
Not only was she up to the task of helping Canada nail down a berth for the 2012 London Olympics, she and Jennerich came from behind for the second race in a row Sunday to capture a silver medal at the worlds behind an impressive Greek double.
“I did feel quite a bit of pressure,” said Obee, who like Jennerich is from Victoria. “But I also felt quite confident rowing with Lindsay. She knows what she's doing, she knows the speed of the field and I knew she was going to get us going fast enough to qualify at least.”
Jennerich, who teamed with Cameron to win the world title last year and the prestigious Lucerne Regatta in July, couldn't help but be pleased with the outcome.
“Obee and I executed one of the best races we could have executed today,” she said. “Our regatta started off with a win in the heat that showed us we had more to find and I'm really proud of how we found a way to make each race better such that it culminated in a silver medal for us today.
“The Greeks are a very strong crew and I congratulate them on their win and feel that given the circumstances of how Obee and I ended up in the double (Tracy being injured) I think our silver was as good as gold today.”
Canadian coach Al Morrow praised both athletes.
“It's pretty incredible,” said the veteran coach. “The x factor has been Lindsay Jenner. She was World Cup champion this year, world champion last year. Patricia Obee did a great job. Her improvement curve has been outstanding in the last four weeks.
“It was an awkward situation, but it was the wily veteran and the new kid stepping in and they got caught up in it. They had two great comeback races. They showed a lot of maturity. It sets us up to have high hopes for the Olympics.”
It also creates an interesting situation as Cameron's injured rib will heal and the outstanding veteran and Olympic bronze medalist will undoubtedly be favoured to reclaim her spot in the boat for London while Obee will be doing everything she can to keep it.
“It's a nice problem to have,” said Morrow.
Canada also won a silver and qualified for the Paralympics with a silver medal in the adaptive mixed coxed four. The four (LTA4+) consists of Tony Theriault (Victoria, BC), David Blair (Ottawa, ON), Meghan Montgomery (Winnipeg, MB), Victoria Nolan (Toronto, ON) and Laura Comeau (St. Catharines, ON).
Canada established themselves as serious medal contenders in three events right now for London and qualified for the Games in another four races. The women's lightweight double and women's eight both claimed silver medals – the women's eight gave themselves a huge dose of motivation by moving within a second of the frontrunning U.S.. The Canadian men's eight also showed they're back in the mix with a bronze medal.
As Rowing Canada high performance director Peter Cookson said: "I think we did what we needed to do to set ourselves up for the next 11 months. We have a lot of planning and work ahead to keep our standards up to this incredibly high level, and if we manage that and work as a team, we are on track for next year."
(Photo: Jackie "Ace" Skender, Rowing Canada)