Aussie rower gives up and stunning poll.

I was amazed when I heard about this and stunned at the poll results that were linked to the story when I voted about 5 minutes ago

Poll: Does Sally Robbins’ decision to give up and deprive her colleagues the chance of a medal warrant our sympathy?
Total votes 2597
Yes 1549 59.6%
No 1048 40.4%


Rower quits and costs medal

By PAUL KENT in Athens

August 23, 2004

THIS is one of the most heartbreaking and inexplicable scenes ever seen in Australian sport.

Sally Robbins – a member of the Australian rowing eight – collapses in her seat and stops rowing 600m from the finish line in the Olympic final.

Her extraordinary decision to stop competing was explained by Olympic officials last night as a combination of mental and physical exhaustion.

Her collapse created tension and anger among her teammates because it cost them any chance of a medal.

The crew finished a distant last.

When the crew came ashore, Robbins, 23, was led away by a team doctor while the rest of the crew sat at the end of the dock, alone among themselves.

In one of the more stunning, unusual – however you want to describe it – scenes ever seen in elite sport, Robbins stopped rowing when it became apparent that Australia would struggle to win a medal. She later told team officials that she had rowed herself out and felt unwell.

Coach Harald Jahrling said he had never seen anything like it in more than 35 years of coaching.

The "no-row " has caused a massive fracture within the crew and must now put an awful question mark on Robbins’ chances of being chosen for Australia again.

It appears as though Robbins has committed the greatest crime there is in honest sport.

She quit.

More than an hour after the race none of the seven remaining women’s eight had spoken to Robbins.

“We have all gone our separate ways at the moment,” Jodie Winter, the two-seat, said.

“I guess we’ll come together,” stroke Kyeema Doyle said.

Even Robbins said, “I haven’t had a chance to talk to them properly.”

Asked whether she had witnessed anything like this before, Winter was silent for a moment, then said: “No.”

The situation blew up in the boat afterwards when the crew headed straight to the dock.

“A lot of things were said,” said Doyle.

“Just pure disappointment and frustration were shown.”

About 650m from the finish line, Robbins stopped rowing and collapsed backwards on Julia Wilson, her oar dropping into the water and pulling the Australian boat down.

Wilson shoved her back up and said something inaudible and Robbins took a few light strokes before she collapsed back on to Wilson again.

Better be a little careful on this one till more is known. In such settings, in the past, rowers have died because they went beyond their capacity to keep up with the rest of the team. In the heat of Athens, I think people ought to wait to condemn. If she’s delerious enough, she may not know even what she saying at this point.

Here is an update which gives more questions than answers.

ROWER Sally Robbins has blamed fatigue for her collapse during the women’s eights final as a former Olympic rower claimed it was the second time Robbins had stopped during a final.

The 23-year-old stopped rowing about 500m from the finish of Sunday’s Athens final.

One of Robbins’ crewmates threatened to throw her out of the boat after she gave up.

And Robbins told how her teammates abused her after the race.

“I had some pretty hard words thrown at me,” Robbins said. "I had some pretty tough things to take.

“I haven’t really experienced anything like that before.”

Robbins said it was not the first time she had collapsed in similar circumstances in a race.

“Suddenly fatigue sets in and I just can’t move,” she said.

“It’s a feeling of paralysis where you just hit the wall.”

Retired Australian rower and silver medallist Rachael Taylor contacted media yesterday to claim that Robbins had stopped rowing during the final of the 2002 world championship quad scull race.

“I have never, ever seen anyone at an elite level stop rowing except for Sally Robbins, twice, under extreme pressure and in extreme pain, both times costing her crewmates medals at the highest level,” Taylor said.

Rowing Australia spokesman David Pembroke said: “We have been made aware late this afternoon of the allegations made by Rachael Taylor and we are looking into it and until we have established whether or not it is true we are not in a position to make any public comment.”

Sydney-based sports physician Dr John Orchard said heat exhaustion might have left Robbins unable to continue.

“The odds that it would have been a moment of mental weakness to me are very remote and the odds that it would have been a degree of heat illness are very high,” Dr Orchard said.

"The most informed comments are going to be from the team doctor but in a general sense it’s much more likely to be a physical condition than a mental one.

“They’re rowing in hot conditions and heat illness in those conditions, when you’re pushing yourself to the absolute limit, is very common.”

“I think you’ve got to remember that it’s OK for an athlete to pull out in hot conditions – it’s even possible that it was a life-saving decision for her.”

Team manager Wayne Diplock said Robbins was affected by a combination of mental and physical exhaustion.

“If one rower gets exhausted a few hundred metres out there’s not a lot you can do,” he said.

Concerned Olympic chief John Coates has reminded Australian athletes of behaviour standards after Robbins came in for what he says is unfair criticism for dropping her oar in the final.

Coates believes it is un-Australian for athletes to publicly criticise teammates and he expects fellow crew member Julia Wilson – who was vocal in her criticism of Robbins – to apologise.

good stance charlie…more has come out since!! media fenzy again here in australia!! no more jana pittman coverage yeah !!!

biggest mistake i reckon was the coaching staff afterwards not keeping the team together and getting team psch in asap. They let girls go off and talk to family and friends and the media got in on the action!!

Yes! It was critical to keep them together. If this has happened before (and I’m sceptical, because a total collapse would have been reported at the time), they should have looked into it then to see what happened to her.
Has everyone forgotten where they are- Athens? It’s blazing hot out there and extremely dangerous for extreme endurance events. Even Paula Radcliffe had to stop. (see my comment on that)