Name: Gearoid Towey
Hometown: Kilworth, Cork
Years in the sport: 20
2001 World Championship Gold 🥇
1996 U23 World Championship Gold 🥇
1999, 2003, 2006 World Championship Bronze 🥉
How did you get started in rowing?
Older siblings were rowers so I just followed them to the club and loved the water.
What was it like when you officially retired?
I loved it. I felt like I had enough of rowing and the Olympics. It felt like it was time to move on.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Running Crossing the Line like I am now but in charge of a bigger organization with more countries.
Greg Louganis (American Diver, 4x Olympic Gold Medalist). The epitome of athleticism, mental fortitude, humbleness, and grace.
What was your biggest challenge as an athlete and how did you overcome it?
I was a bad loser when I was younger. I felt every loss was earth shattering. I quickly learned that losing is part of the game and if I didn’t man up I wouldn’t last long.
What has your biggest challenge since retiring from sport?
I lost all interest in exercising. I am getting it back again but it has taken 10 years.
The best advice that you have been given?
Transition isn’t a goal with a final end point. Transition is a life project. We never fully “transition”
Cycling, going to the beach, reading, listening to music, talking with my mates at the pub, and traveling. love traveling.
Anything from the 70’s and 80’s
What was the best part of competing?
Feeling like you have finally broken a tough competitor during a race and that you are about to win.
“Don’t sweat the small stuff”.
If you could train with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be?
If you could have competed in another sport what would it be and why?
Wrestling. I have a good grip!
Favourite place you competed?
Did/do you have any special warm up routine?
No, but I had to do a lot to get warm and feel ready. I had to be up at least 5 hours before a big race.
What time is your alarm set for?
I don’t have an alarm. The sun comes into my east facing room.
Ice cream or cake?
What did you do on your rest days?
Read, chores, sleep.
Last non food item you bought?
I just bought a scratching tower for my two cats.
Do you have a lucky number?
The Best thing you’ve done in the past 3 months?
Went to Japan. Awesome place.
Strangest thing you’ve ever witnessed?
This is a family website, right? I saw a guy getting stabbed in Seville in 2002.
Best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
Buy a house (when I was 21).
Scariest thing you’ve ever done?
Rowed across the Atlantic Ocean.
If you were stranded on a desert island, what one person and thing would you like to have?
Bear Grills and a hen. The hen would provide us with eggs and Bear Grills would catch something to have them with plus know a million ways to cook an egg.
What would be your perfect meal?
Potatoes, tender fillet steak, medium rare and asparagus with some French mustard.
What performance are you most proud of?
Winning the Australian National titles in 3 events after a rough 6 months where I nearly had to quit the sport.
Hardest sports moment you had to push through?
Having to race in the B final at the Athens Olympics. We had just missed the final and had to race for places 7 to 12 and by then our souls had disappeared. Was like racing on empty.
What have you learned from rowing that has helped you in other parts of your life?
The right people around you are very important, in everything you do.
Favourite place to eat?
Anywhere in Istanbul.
If you had to travel either forward in time or backward in time, which would you choose? Why?
Back, pre 1996. To the time with no internet or mobile phones.
What is the most unusual, challenging, or creative workout you’ve ever done?
I used to run to the top of a mountain and down in Ireland when I trained there. It was great to be alone and in the elements and Ireland is a beautiful place.
Cats. They don’t give a s***.
Dream job besides an athlete?
What motivated you to keep training?
The prospect of winning and being competitive. If you didn’t train it was impossible to be up there.
Favourite time of year?
Of all the people you have trained with over the years, from whom have you learned the most and why?Bit of a hard question. All for different reasons but, Tom Kay, Tony O Connor, and Sam Lynch.
How many hours did you train at a given week?
Average 15 or 16 hours and training camps up to 35 hours.
Best memory you have from a time when you were training?
Night rowing was the best.
If you could trade places with anyone for a day who would it be? Why?
Donald Trump. So I could delete my twitter account and resign from office.
What accomplishments outside of your sport are you most proud of?
Starting and growing a charity that is still growing. Being adaptable and being able to move anywhere and get along with most people.
Breath by Tim Winton.
What did a typical day of training look like?
A shopping list on Christmas Eve.
Anything people be surprised to learn about you?
That I love cats.
What is the funniest thing that happened to you/others while training?
Watching people capsize in rowing is always fun, and it happens at the top level too!
Best movie and tv series?
Movie: Fight Club
Series: Breaking Bad
Favourite food while training?
Any, we were calorie controlled. When not calorie counting then eggs and bacon on toast was an all day favourite.
Results you’re most proud of?
Winning any major comp is a great feeling. I liked winning when I wasn’t expected to.
What inspires you?
People, nature – especially the ocean. I like being near transient places. The possibility of adventure.
Do you have a saying or motto you live by?
What will I say to myself on my death bed? If it contained the words “Should have” I won’t be happy!
What did/do you enjoy most about rowing?
Travel, the lads I rowed with, the rowing community in general, the statistics, the history.
Advise that you have for someone starting out rowing?
You picked a great sport. No matter what level you get to, rowing will help you out in life, be it with contacts, community, a place to be healthy and get some peace. You don’t need to be elite to benefit from the sport.
What was the most crucial part of your training?
Willpower. Learning to deal with pain.
Anyone you would like to thank?
My father and mother, my sister, Ray Sims, Tim McLaren, Tom, and Martin Kay, Sam Lynch, Tony O Connor, Neal Byrne, and Caroline McManus.
Gearoid’s Charity: Crossing the Line Sport – By Athletes, For athletes. A confidential space for athletes to share their stories and get expert advice on Mentalhealth, Wellbeing and Life after Sport:
Gearoid Towey is a three-time Olympic rower and former World Champion. Since he retired from rowing at the Beijing Olympic Games, he became aware that athlete transition is a serious issue affecting thousands of people and that a lot more can be done to help athletes prepare for the day they must move on.
Because of this, Gearoid founded Crossing the Line: a confidential, independent service where the sporting community can share their stories and receive expert advice and information on mental health, well being and transitioning to life after sport.