Sport: Vanuatu rower qualifiers for Rio
Vanuatu rower qualifies for the Rio Olympics.
Luigi Teilemb has become the first Vanuatu rower to qualify for the Olympics.
He missed out on automatic qualification at last months Asia/Oceania Championships but was awarded a place in Rio by the International Olympic Committee.
Oceania's representative for the international rowing federation, Lee Spear, told Vinnie Wylie the 24 year old has progressed quickly in the sport.
LEE SPEAR: Luigi started in 2011 or 2012 - started as a novice. He went up as part of a lightweight double to the (2013) World Champs in Chungju in Korea and the following year he competed at the Under 23 (World Champs) and at the Worlds as a lightweight single sculler. In an effort to qualify for the Olympics he's had to turn himself into a heavyweight sculler (and) is going to the Olympics now in the men's singles against (2012 Olympic gold medalist) Mahe (Drysdale) and others. He's still learning his craft but he's learning it very quickly and he's very committed.
VINNIE WYLIE: Maybe if you could just explain the process about how he actually earned that qualification for Rio?
LS: It's called a tripartite invitation so the Vanuatu National Olympic Committee, the International Rowing Federation - FISA - and the International Olympic Committee have two spots for male rowers and two spots for female rowers, which they keep and offer as an invitation and that applies in other sports as well and out of I think 12 nominations from various countries, for those who didn't obtain qualification through the regattas, Luigi and a lad from Libya were successful and offered invitation places. That's a recognition really of their promise and also the commitment they're showing to rowing.
VW: To start up, to then get to a World Championships, to then get in his own boat in singles and then move up to a different class and now to be going to the Olympics, all in a very short space of time, is quite phenomenal really?
LS: Oh it is. While most people focus upon who's going to win the single sculls at the Olympics there are other battles all the way down the line as well for the international rankings so Luigi will be desperately trying to make a C final.
VW: So the Asia/Oceania qualifiers - was that his most recent competition?
LS: Yes that was last month up in Chungju in Korea and out of the 20 rowers there Luigi ended up with a rank of 13 and seven qualified but the gap between seven and 13 was very very slight. So he was unlucky, a couple of things could have gone his way and he might have been a bit closer but he wasn't outclassed at all.
VW: Is he effectively able to be training and preparing full-time at the moment?
LS: He's been full-time training in New Zealand since last November, under Matt Cameron, the head coach at Waikato Rowing Club, and Matt will be his coach when he heads off to Europe next month and then over to Rio.
VW: So I image it's now going to be a very busy two/three months ahead?
LS: He will go up to Europe. The Australian Institute of Sport have a European training centre and they've kindly offered accommodation for Luigi and his coach Matt (Cameron) in Italy and they will be based there for a few weeks and go up to Poland for World Cup 3 and then off to Rio about the 23rd/24th of July.
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