Edwards keeps an eye out for emerging stars

FIFTEEN months after ending his two-decade- long international rowing career, five-time Olympian Anthony Edwards is in charge of finding his replacements.

Having graced the ultimate stage at Atlanta, Sydney, Athens, Beijing and London, the the Ballarat-born lightweight can now be found in a pre- dawn downpour in the middle of Launceston's Tamar River.

A veteran of 11 world championships, the 40-year-old has, since November 1, been in charge of the Tasmanian Institute of Sport's emerging talent program, operating under head rowing coach Brett Crow along similar lines to hockey and cycling programs.

"My role is to focus on bringing younger athletes into the TIS and progressing them onto national junior, under-21 and under-23 teams," the Molesworth-based father of two said.

"I'm looking at the future of the sport beyond the next Olympics."

Having ended his international career with a frustrating fourth-place finish at Eton Dorney, Edwards said coaching was a natural progression.

"I realised that I actually enjoy just being on the water. It's a great way to start the day.

"My drive now is to give back to the sport what it has given me for 20 years.

"It is stimulating. And it's not about me any more, it's about them, and if they are successful and coming off the water happy, that makes me happy.

"It was not a smooth or easy transition. Spending winter on the Derwent River in a freezing cold boat is the stark reality of what coaching is all about.

"Do I wish I was out there with them? No, not any more. At the end of the day, you know when your time is up."

Tasmania will send 12 rowers to Sydney for the national time trials and NSW championships which serve as a national selection event.

Having Sam Beltz, Blair Tunevitsch, Ali Foot and Tom Gibson among the top six lightweights in the country opens up the prospect of an all-Tasmanian lightweight four crew and Beltz's former Olympic crewmate knows the expectations of maintaining that production line.

Edwards is seeking a suitable pair partner for Launceston student Ciona Wilson, who is in her final year as an under-23. He is also assisting Mersey's Taylor Wilczynski's senior campaign after three injury-disrupted years and overseeing the transition from school programs of Tamar's John McKenzie, Henry Youl and Oli Cook, plus Lachlan McCarron and Brendan Kieley, of North Esk.

"I'm trying to teach them about rowing in small boats and what opportunities are out there in the world of rowing.

"People like Oli Cook I see as future lightweights to support the strength we have in Tasmania and hopefully they will get an opportunity to row with people like Sam Beltz and Blair Tunevitsch in coming years.

"We have a high standard in Tasmania for lightweight rowing so hopefully some of these guys can step up to that challenge."

Wilczynski, 23, believes the former world champion also makes a good coach.

"He definitely brings a lot of experience.

"Turning that experience into coaching advice is sometimes an art that has to be developed but I think `Eddie' is doing a good job.

"He's very good at relating to the athletes and it's nice to have some high- performance coaching at this end of the state.

"Sometimes he shares a few stories from his past, and he's got a lot of them because he's been around a while."

On the water front: in The Sunday Examiner this week, sports editor ROB SHAW joins Launceston's early-morning rowers.

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