By Donna Spencer, The Canadian Press
Cameron Sinclair needs a woman for his boat.
A rising talent in para-rowing, Sinclair won’t be able to compete in the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro unless he quickly finds a female partner to race mixed double sculls with him.
The job posting is: a female athlete with some degree of functional loss or limitation of movement in one or two of her legs, willing and able to dedicate the next 18 months to winning a Paralympic medal in Rio. No previous rowing experience necessary. Ability to swim an asset, but not a requirement.
“The hard part would be the time commitment,” Sinclair told The Canadian Press from London, Ont. “We’re not talking a recreation league here. We’re talking about going to the Paralympics in less than two years, a year and a half.
“Are they going to be willing to put in the same hours that all the other national-team athletes are putting in? It’s not an easy feat by any means. If they’re willing to stick with it, the rewards are going to be really great.”
Sinclair’s leg movement is limited because of childhood epileptic seizures. The former sledge hockey player rows in the Paralympic classification of mixed double sculls TA (trunk and arms).
Racing on an ergometer, or rowing machine, the 23-year-old from Mount Brydges, Ont., broke the world indoor record over 1,000 metres earlier this month and won a silver medal in last year’s world indoor championship.
There isn’t a single sculls race for his classification in either the Paralympic Games or the world para-rowing championship. In order for Sinclair to race on the world stage, he needs a female partner.
“I think if we had a person who was willing to commit and put their time to this, we would have a very successful boat going forward,” he said. “I don’t want to sound cocky, but I did break a world record and I have been doing pretty well in the sport.”
Sinclair’s ideal candidate is a woman already participating in a para-sport, but he’s prepared to cast a wide net. Height is also an asset because that translates to a long reach with the oars. Learning to row also means falling in the water.
“If someone can handle themselves in the water, that would be great,” Sinclair said. “If they can’t swim we can always find a way to work around it.
“If you flip the boat, it is buoyant. It’s not going to sink so you can grab onto any part of the equipment and it will not sink.”
Any interested candidates should contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sinclair swapped his hockey sledge for a boat in 2013 after suffering a fifth concussion in hockey. A strength trainer suggested he’d be a good fit for rowing.
He went through Rowing Canada’s battery of tests in a Row To Podium talent identification camp, which is the same route his prospective female teammate would take.
Sinclair faces two deadlines in his search. The world rowing championships are Aug. 30 to Sept. 6 in France, where they could qualify for Rio with a top-eight finish. Failing that, the duo would need to finish in the top two at a Paralympic qualification regatta in May, 2016.
Rowing Canada opened a new para-rowing centre in Victoria last month. The country’s pool of athletes is thin because of retirements after the 2012 Paralympic Games.
Sinclair intends to move to Victoria eventually and hopes his female partner would do the same in pursuit of a Paralympic medal.
“If anyone has their doubts, take that chance, that leap of faith,” he said. “I was very skeptical at first. I sat on the idea for a while. Unfortunately under this circumstance, we don’t have that much time.”