Rowing Canada parts ways with famed, divisive coach Mike Spracklen
Rowing Canada on Monday announced changes to their coaching structure pointing to the 2016 Olympics in Rio, and Mike Spracklen will not be part of the effort.
In two extended stints with Rowing Canada, the 75-year-old Spracklen helped guide the men's eight to wins at the 1992 and 2008 Olympic Games, as well as a silver medal in August at the London Olympics.
"We thank Mike for his tremendous contributions to Canadian rowing, and we know he will be missed by many of the athletes he has worked with," high performance director Peter Cookson said in a statement. "Mike has left a significant legacy and we respect and celebrate his many achievements."
Prior to working with Canadian rowers, Spracklen spent nearly two decades in his native England and helped train Steven Redgrave, who went on to win five Olympic gold medals and one silver in his career. Spracklen also worked with the U.S. team for a spell in the 1990s.
Three-time Canadian Olympic medallist Silken Laumann credited Spracklen through the years for having a hand in her success, and after the men's silver in London called him the "greatest rowing coach in the world" on her blog.
"No other coach could take a group of young men, only two who had raced at the Olympic level, and four years later, win a silver medal at the Olympic Games," Laumann wrote.
But a CBC Sports investigation in August chronicled divisions within the Canadian team, with some athletes reaching their fill with Spracklen's hard-nosed approach.
"I think there's a healthier approach to sport. I don't think that sport at an elite level at a high performance level has to be abusive," David Calder told CBC's Teddy Katz.
Calder and Scott Frandsen finished a disappointing sixth in men's pairs in London after winning a silver medal at the Games in Beijing.
It was part of an overall performance from the squad that saw two silver medals. Canadian entries made three of seven finals.
Rowing Canada said Monday that John Keogh will assume the role of performance director for the women's team, while Al Morrow will be responsible for the lightweight men’s program.