Australian rowing has turned to Launceston’s John Keogh to oversee its women’s program.
And the former North Esk club member could yet do so from his home town.
Announcing the 47-year-old’s appointment as its new women’s head coach, Rowing Australia said he will be based “at the soon to be announced women’s national training centre”.
Launceston is among the locations to have submitted applications to host the women’s program and Keogh has previously demonstrated his liking for its suitability as a rowing base.
In 2013 he brought the Canadian women’s rowing team to the state ahead of a world cup event in Sydney and said it was ideal for the purpose.
“This is perfect,'' he said. “With Lake Barrington you have a beautiful international-standard course plus you can get long rowing on the river in Launceston with good infrastructure nearby like the North Esk and Tamar clubs.”
Keogh’s appointment follows that of New Zealander Ian Wright as the men’s head coach with the pair set to work alongside RA performance director Bernard Savage and his deputy Jaime Fernandez.
Keogh said he was excited to be returning to Australia.
“I am looking forward to working with Australia’s elite female athletes, as well as the entire staff and coaching group as we work towards the common goal of being the world’s top rowing nation.
“I have been fortunate for the last 10 years to work overseas in successful programs, alongside some of the leading coaches from around the world, and I look forward to bringing my knowledge to this exciting new direction for RA.”
A fitter and machinist by trade, Launceston-born Keogh won two school state championships at Queechy High, an under-23 lightweight pair national title with North Esk, represented Tasmania in youth eight and lightweight four and twice finished fourth in lightweight fours at world championships.
A coaching career which began at Scotch Oakburn saw Keogh become head of Great Britain’s high performance program, leading the women’s eight to a bronze medal at the 2007 world championships and fifth at the Beijing Olympics.
He joined Rowing Canada and coached the women's eight to silver medals behind the US at the 2010 and ’11 world championships, the latter by just 0.7 seconds.
He has led the Canadian women’s program for the past six years, holding the roles of women’s performance director and senior women’s coach.
During this time the women’s lightweight double sculls won silver at the Rio Olympic Games while the women’s eight won silver in London as well as medals at five world championships.
Shortly after the 2012 Olympics he visited Launceston with wife Samantha, daughter Hollie and son Liam and jumped at the chance to catch up with two-time Olympian Brendan Long, who he coached in the 1998 Tasmanian youth eight.
Rowing Australia CEO Michael Scott said: “It is fantastic to be able to announce another new coaching appointment and especially one that sees John return back to Australia to share his wealth of female rowing coaching knowledge and expertise.
“John has many years of international experience and a proven track record of securing medals with his female rowing crews, so we are looking forward to him leading our new women’s national program.”
Rowing Australia’s new strategic plan includes the centralisation of its high performance programs and the development of a state-based pathways program.