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Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Athletes Column - Andrew Todd



Athlete's Column

Andrew Todd - Rowing

Andrew Todd is a decorated Paralympic rower, with back-to-back world championships in the PR3 two-person class in 2018 and 2019. Todd was also part of Canada’s bronze-winning four-person crew at the 2016 Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro. Todd came to the sport as a university student in 2007 and was training for the senior national team in 2013 when he suffered major injuries after being struck by a school bus that ran a stop sign. The North Star rower returned to full-time training in 2014 and has competed in able-bodied regattas alongside his success in Para rowing.

“In my first year of university in 2007 I was looking for a new sport, something that would allow me to maintain my fitness but give me that flexibility to focus on school. I’d never touched an oar before then, but I had a lot of fun with rowing. By 2009 I decided I wanted to see if I could go somewhere with it.

In 2013 I performed well enough at the national selection regatta to be invited to the training centre in London, Ont., to try out for the lightweight fours boat. Shortly after I arrived, I was out on bikes training and ended up being struck by a bus. I had a number of surgeries, and I stayed part of the sport the whole way through. I used rowing almost as a tool for recovery.

I knew I wanted to get back into a boat. Rowing pushed me to get better and recover physically. Also, from a psychological, mental and community side, I had a lot of coaches and friendships with people in the sport who really supported me through that process. It was invaluable to have a sense of working toward something and having that goal of competing again.

In 2015 I made the LTA coxed four that competed at the world championships. We won a bronze there and went on to win a bronze medal at the 2016 Paralympics.

In 2017 I was hoping to make another try at the lightweight fours on the able-bodied side, but we learned that year it was being removed from the Olympics. I made the switch back to training with the Para team. I raced the PR3 men’s pair event with Kyle Frederickson at worlds in 2018 and 2019, and we managed to become back-to-back world champions. That was really cool.

This May, I’ll race with the PR3 coxed fours at a regatta in Italy where we’ll try to qualify for the 2020 Paralympics in Tokyo. We need a top-two finish at that event to gain a spot at the Paralympics.

I’m training full-time at national headquarters in B.C. this year in the Olympic cycle, but I’ve been training a lot in Nova Scotia over the past three years. I find the environment and coaching and the rowing community is really special. It’s such a positive environment.

I’ve been actively pursuing my coaching education, and I’m hoping in the future not only to compete as an athlete but as a coach, to help other athletes get better and contribute to the sport in the province. As an athlete, I go to practice with the goal of not only trying to make myself faster, but trying to make my teammates faster.

It really is a team sport. We’re not only pushing ourselves to become better, but we’re pushing to make sure our teammates become better as well.”

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