A woman in a men’s team is a very unusual phenomenon across sports, but Zelenková is not the only coxswain of the eight at the world championship in Račice. Although the small men setting the pace and direction of the ship clearly have the upper hand…
Zelenková sat facing the rest of the crew on Dukla on the coach’s recommendation. “I went to one practice and they already kept me,” she recalls. The new role caught her right away. “I enjoyed steering, but I was very stressed about screwing it up,” admits the teenager, who is the youngest in the boat.
Screamed and breathless
And a lot can go wrong even without an oar. “As a coxswain, I have to perceive what is happening in the race. Setting the rhythm and instructions, reacting to the other crews when they start,” he enumerates.
Even if he has a microphone to his mouth during the race, his vocal cords are taking a beating. “Especially in the beginning, I used to be quite yelled at, now I’ve gotten used to it a bit. But I’m short of breath after the finish line,” she admits that the race, like the rowing part of the crew, drains her strength.
She also goes through most of the training sessions with the men, although she only rows recreationally. “Maybe I don’t cycle with them, but I go to the gym to maintain myself,” explains the 175 cm girl who, according to the World Rowing profile, weighs 52 kg. “For now, I’m maintaining my weight just fine, but I think I’ll have to watch it soon,” she says with a smile.
Eight rowing training is also challenging in terms of organization. Most of the crew is recruited from competitors under the age of 23, the oldest of them is from 1999. And they have to combine their preparation with their studies. “Getting together with nine people is difficult with all the tests at school, this year there was also a lot of illness,” describes Zelenková.
The young crew should mainly gain experience at the home World Championship, they finished far behind in the heat and want to take away a better impression from Friday’s repairs.