Kerry Hore said it will take a year to decide whether to call time on Tasmania’s longest Olympic career.
Three months after the first Olympic Games quad scull final not to feature the Hobart rower since Sydney 2000, Hore said she is still analysing what went wrong in Rio de Janeiro and what it means for her future.
The 35-year-old said the recent appointments of fellow Tasmanians John Keogh and John Driessen to national coaching positions is a major incentive to prolong her career, as is the prospect of competing in a smaller boat at the highest level for the first time.
But until she makes her decision, Hore is content to keep fit at the Tasmanian Institute of Sport gym, row socially at Huon and continue to surprise her fellow rowers by selling chocolate brownies in the canteen at Rowing Tasmania’s pennant regattas.
“I’m fairly sure I’m going to retire,” Hore said in her first major interview since her fourth Olympic campaign.
“I’ll give it at least a year during which I’ll work and keep fit and then decide.
“After London I started training straight away and that didn’t work, I started going backwards, so I know how important it is to have a break. I need another goal. It’s hard living life in four-year cycles.
“Just knowing the standard you need to be at, I cannot see myself training that hard for another four years. But maybe I’ll feel differently after a while.
“I have an offer to relocate to the training base in Penrith but it gets harder to do that when you get older.”
In previous Olympic cycles the Bellerive pharmacist has been based in Canberra twice, Queensland, Tasmania, South Australia and New South Wales where she would be expected to return if she committed to another campaign for Tokyo 2020.
Having finished third, sixth and fourth in the 2004, ’08 and 12 ’Olympic quad scull finals, Hore guided her three young crewmates Madeleine Edmunds, Jessica Hall and Jen Cleary to second in their Rio heat before they were the only boat eliminated in the repechage - by six one-hundredths of a second.
“After our heat we knew we had to get out a bit faster and just did not get into the same rhythm.
“It was the best field I had ever seen at an Olympic Games. I did not look at any crew and think they were not in contention.
“We just did not put it together on the day and at an Olympic Games that can mean not making the final and I could not quite believe that had happened.
“I did not even consider that we would not make the final with only one crew missing out and it was so close at the end. We did not not know when we crossed the line and then when we found out it was just shock and disbelief. I’m still devastated about it.
“I was mentally and physically in the best shape I’d ever been. To work for years and years towards that and walk away with nothing to show was devastating.”
Hardly in the mood for partying, Hore left the Olympics before the final week and said it took school visits and welcome home parades to view her campaign more objectively.
“I came home with a sense of failure that I’d let everyone down but I know I have not put in any less effort than those athletes that won events.
“I felt a bit of shame and embarrassment but I guess it’s easy to lose perspective.
“I’m proud to be the first Australian female rower to go to four Olympics and to have one Olympic medal and three from world champs but I don’t really feel distinguished because I have not necessarily got the results I would have wanted.
“I visited 12 schools after I came back from London and what that made me realise was just how special it is to be an Olympian. Doing things like that helps me as much as it helps the kids. Some of the letters I get are awesome and I reply to all of them.
“The welcome home parade was also a really good experience for me. I really did not want to go but I’m so glad I did.”
Having shown the form of her life leading into Rio, Hore is reluctant to just let go.
In the meantime she will discuss her future with Keogh and Driessen and continue a more social involvement in the sport that has dominated her adult life.
“They are people that I trust have my best interests at heart. That would be a factor in favour of continuing.
“Before these Games I was doing PBs on the ergo at age of 34. That’s pretty satisfying. And the last two or three years training with John Driessen on the Huon have been the best of my career. It’s just so simple training down there.
“I still take a single scull out at Huon, once a week go out with a group, am still training at the gym and riding my bike.
“I’ve been working in the canteen at Rowing Tasmania’s opening pennant regattas, making brownies for the competitors. People get a bit of a shock when they walk up but I love being a part of that. It gives me a whole new appreciation.
“To go to the Rowing Tasmania AGM and see so many volunteers that make our sport happen and see what goes on behind the scenes really makes me want to help out.
“Plus it was freezing and windy so I did not miss being out on the water.
“I’m really glad that I kept rowing because I was in a pretty bad place after London and everything that happened there. I did not think I’d get back to rowing let alone achieving the best results I ever have personally.
“At London I was really disappointed with fourth because I thought I could do better but I look back now and think with our limited preparation, that was a good result.
“I would like to try a smaller boat like a double where you have a little bit more control and only have to rely on one other person. I have not done that at an Olympics
“I would not mind a national championships to prove I can still do it. It’s just hard to think in four-year cycles and doing two or three sessions per day for that time.
“It’s hard to think about Tokyo at the moment.”