With less than two months until the London Olympics, the ghosts of Sally Robbins loom large. Australia’s female rowers are sneaking glances over their shoulders at their crewmates, probing for the slightest signs of weakness and ruthlessly eliminating those who don’t cut it.
That’s the obvious conclusion to draw after this week’s sacking of star rower Pippa Savage. The 31 year old was axed from the London quad scull team because she wasn’t getting along with her team-mates. She also had a bustup with a rowing partner pre-Beijing, which is the sort of baggage her current team-mates were clearly not willing to take on board.
But there’s another way of looking at it. Sally or no Sally, rowing always has been, always will be a sport in which a unified crew is everything. To use the oldest, most dog-eared cliché in sport, it is a sport in which a champion team will always beat a team of champions.
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