The Vikings Society was proud to welcome Jürgen Grobler OBE to Upper School for their first meeting of 2018. Mr Grobler is the Head Coach of GB Rowing and has coached Olympic gold medal winning OEs such as Matthew Pinsent, Ed Coode and, most recently, Constantine Louloudis.

The accolades this man has acquired are innumerable; he has achieved a medal in each Olympic Games since he started in 1972, with his athlete that year winning a bronze medal in the single scull – his most special Olympics, he says. He has won the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Coach Award and was awarded an OBE in March 2006. In the Q&A format of the evening, the secretaries of the Vikings Society asked Mr Grobler how he had felt, as a coach, making the decisions for selection, and how this had affected the athlete-coach relationship, essential to the motivation needed to remain in the sport.

Mr Grobler spoke about the technical development in rowing, with the arguably the most important change being the shape of the blades. He also commented on the challenges GB Rowing face with team selection with more and more Junior GB rowers going to US universities.

When questions were opened to the floor, his appreciation of the significant role the coxswain plays in the boat impressed upon the boys the value of this role as the leader-figure in the boat. After Mr Grobler was asked what his ‘technical model’ for a rower was, he discussed the ‘balanced’ manner of Team GB, neither too “front-ended” nor “back-ended”, in comparison to other nations' teams.

It was such a pleasure to host, perhaps the most successful coach of all time, at Eton.

We would like to thank Mr Grobler for taking the time to come and speak at the College, and we look forward to welcoming him again soon.

Nathan Swidler (NCWS)