An Interview with Emma Twigg

Olympic champion rower carries a single SL Racing skiff over her shoulder as she walks up the bank of the River Clive

After returning to the top of the podium at Nationals this year, our great friend Emma Twigg sat down with SL Racing to chat about rowing, life, and why she is getting back in the boat for Tokyo 2020.

What got you into rowing?

My brother started rowing after watching Rob Waddell win a gold medal at the Sydney Olympics. Dad coached him and after a year of watching the fun that he had at the Hawkes Bay Rowing Club, I decided with some encouragement from both of them that I would give it a go. I have always been very competitive, so I found it hard when I was an average novice. I was convinced to carry on because of my build, and eventually my competitiveness became an advantage.

What’s your favourite session?

I love a long U2 row, when the boat is feeling light and the water is pristine. Nothing beats the feeling of the boat and your body working hard in a session like this.

How do you prepare for a race?

My preparation for a race is done month’s in advance. The training that we do daily prepares us the best, but on race day I have a very specific routine that involves a pre-row, breakfast, packing my bag to race, chilling to music and getting on my bike to get to the course to warm up. This is something that I have done for many years now. I like to work backwards from the start of the race to plan exactly what time I will start to warm up, eat, chill etc.

Whose been your favourite person to race against?

Kim Brennan would have to be my favourite competitor. Our rivalry in 2013/14 was a memorable time in my career. She is a phenomenal athlete and set a very high standard.

What do you look for in a boat?

I like a boat that is responsive, feels light, sits up well, is balanced and looks slick.

What’s your favourite part about racing an SLR?

Simon has done a great job of building a boat specific to my needs. His eye for how any boat travels through the water is one of the best in the business. What I like about the SLR is my ability to keep my rating up, and be efficient throughout the whole race. I feel like I am sitting up on top of the boat rather than down inside it, and the quality of the product is awesome. SLR has come a long way since the first single I rowed in, and I now feel like this single is of a quality that would be competitive internationally.

Do you have a favourite/most memorable race? What is it?

Most memorable race would have to be competing in front of a home crowd and winning a bronze medal at the Karapiro World Champs in 2010. I will never forget the thunder of the crowd stomping on the temporary grandstand in the last 250m.

Why did you make a comeback this year?

After time away from the sport, and a little bit of perspective, I realised that it is a real privilege to be able to be working towards being the best in the world at something. This is a gift that I would like to make the most of while my body and mind is still willing. I hope that my return to rowing will inspire others and I will be able to make the most of my profile in sport positively while I can.

What’s the secret to happiness?

Enjoying what you do every day, enjoying the process and surrounding yourself by people that make you laugh, inspire you and exude positivity.

Any advice for a young person sitting in high school (other than row an SLR!)?

Don’t be in a hurry to be at the top of your game. Good things take time, the people you meet, friends you make and experiences you have along the way are far more rewarding than any medal or prize at the end of it.