About James Michael Thompson
James Thompson (born 18 November 1986) is a South African rower. He won a gold medal in the Men's lightweight coxless four event at the 2012 Summer Olympics
James grew up in Cape Town before heading off to Grahamstown where he attended St Andrew's College and first got his taste of competitive rowing. Since finishing school though he’s spent much of his time at the High Performance Centre in Pretoria where he and a handful of seniors spend their days perfecting their strokes. Thompson occupies the bow seat of the boat where he brings the big watts to the party.
He was a member of the winning Men's Lightweight Coxless Four at the London Olympics 2012 at Eton Dorney, near Windsor England on 2nd August 2012. The winning foursome also included Sizwe Ndlovu, John Smith and Mathew Brittain. They beat the favourites Great Britain who were relegated to silver, with the Beijing 2008 champions, Denmark taking bronze.
The combination of Thompson, Smith, Ndlovu and Brittain first raced together in February 2012 at the Grand Challenge in East London. The Buffalo River event is South Africa's most prestigious rowing event. According to Thompson, this race wasn't the best of rows, but in spite of that they were able to bounce back. Following that race they competed in an international regatta in Italy, winning four out of four against some European crews. The biggest success for the team included winning silver at the World Cup Regatta in Switzerland in May 2012.
The national Olympic governing body SASCOC had earlier identified the crew as having medal potential some years ago and gave them full backing, easing a lot of the financial worry and costs of medical treatment, physiotherapy and accommodation, allowing the team to fulling concentrate on refining their skill. That left the crew to freely exercise those powerful shoulders precisely where it counts.
The lightweight men’s fours are coached by Dustin Butler and head coach Paul Jackson while national coach Roger Barrow pulls the strings from an overall perspective. Jackson is constantly helping with role definition, making sure that the combination is well rounded and that trust between the four is 100%. “There has to be huge trust on race day,” says Thompson. “You need to be able to concentrate on your own task in the boat and not worry about the other guys. It’s all about constantly earning and building trust.”
That leaves the crew free to exercise those powerful shoulders precisely where it counts, out in the competition and training arena. And the training arena is not an easy one. Just as road runners talk about how many kilometres they’ve accumulated during a day, so do the rowers. They row approximately 40km/day on a combination of land and water. Their training also includes a 10km running trial over gravel and grass, three times a week.
In terms of other support, it helps that Thompson’s girlfriend, Carolyn Smith, is a former rower herself, having won the lightweight elite singles event at last year’s Henley Women’s Regatta although she’s since concentrated on her actuarial exams. “Carolyn will be a great help over in the UK as she knows the whole rowing set-up and location so well,” says Thompson.
WEB LINKS: http://www.whoswho.co.za/james-thompson-399524 http://www.sport24.co.za/Multimedia/Olympics2012/SA-rowers-win-gold-20120802 http://www.sport24.co.za/OtherSport/Olympics2012/SA-rowers-confident-of-chances-20120801 http://www.rnw.nl/africa/bulletin/south-africa-win-rowing-lightweight-mens-four http://www.roadtolondon2012.co.za/2012/06/02/thompson-co-are-pulling-for-the-medals/#more-22900 http://www.roadtolondon2012.co.za/2012/05/26/sa-mens-fours-off-to-great-start-in-swiss-world-cup/#more-22707