Rower gets Olympic opportunity out of unfortunate situation

Twenty year old Patricia Obee, from the Peninsula, is on pace to represent Canada at the London Olympics

Claremont grad and former UVic Vike Lindsay Jennerich and Stelly’s grad Patricia Obee emerge from Rowing Canada’s boat house at Elk Lake. In 2011 Jennerich and Obee qualified their boat for the Olympics but until two weeks ago Obee was the alternate. Jennerich and Obee will be named to the Olympics next week.

Claremont grad and former UVic Vike Lindsay Jennerich and Stelly’s grad Patricia Obee emerge from Rowing Canada’s boat house at Elk Lake. In 2011 Jennerich and Obee qualified their boat for the Olympics but until two weeks ago Obee was the alternate. Jennerich and Obee will be named to the Olympics next week.

As Kenny Wu crouches to address Lindsay Jennerich and Patricia Obee on the pier of Elk Lake, his arms and hands gesture in a language all his own.

The boat he’s instructing, the lightweight women’s double, has been given a lot of attention lately, the most of any in the country. Unfortunately, it’s more for what’s happened while the boat was out of the water.

Two weeks ago the crew was Jennerich and Tracy Cameron. But injuries frustrated Cameron and led to some troubled chemistry between her and Jennerich. It’s all come out since Cameron’s sudden retirement from Rowing Canada on June 8.

Her withdrawal came at hour zero for the boat’s London campaign.

“Cameron is a highly respected athlete,” said Wu, whose joyful enthusiasm is helping spur Obee and Jennerich along.

“I don’t know how to say it, we have to focus on continuing to improve the boat. We lost her.”

Now with six weeks remaining until the London Olympics, Wu and the double’s crew of Jennerich, 29, and Obee, 20, are eager to move past the distracting gossip that’s unfolded since Cameron’s resignation.

The 37-year-old Cameron, of Nova Scotia, was the incumbent in the Canada’s lightweight double. She won bronze at the Beijing Games with Melanie Kok and most recently, gold with Jennerich at the 2011 Rowing World Cup in Lucerne, Switzerland.

But last summer Cameron suffered a rib injury. Obee, a recent Stelly’s grad, stepped to replace Cameron as a 19-year-old at the September 2011 World Rowing Championships in Bled, Slovenia.

Obee earned accolades such as “phenom” and “super-alternate,” as she and Jennerich won silver and qualified the boat for the London Games.

Except for one month, Jennerich and Obee have trained together since then. They won’t be officially named as the double’s crew until June 28 when Rowing Canada releases its Olympic roster. But they’re training like it, with race-level sprints across Elk Lake every morning.

“There’s no manual for this,” Jennerich said. “(Cameron’s decision) is really surprising, not something you would expect this close to the Olympics. I just hope down the road she has no regrets.”

Cameron initially returned to training in January, and though she was confined to the single until she could get back up to speed, she worked hard. By April, with the Olympics approaching, Rowing Canada wanted to have its Olympic candidates finalized for the world cup event in Lucerne.

Jennerich was pre-selected to the boat, which led to a one-off race in the singles between Cameron and Obee.

Cameron won, and returned to training in the double with Jennerich. It looked like Obee’s Olympic dream would have to wait.

For the rest of April and into May, Cameron and Jennerich prepared to defend their gold medal at Lucerne.

Cameron looked like she was back up to strength. But Lucerne did not go well, and the boat finished eighth. Cameron was disappointed. So was Jennerich. And so was Rowing Canada.

Even so, Cameron’s resignation came as a surprise. But Peter Cookson, the high performance director for Rowing Canada, has since confirmed a fallout between the teammates.

“The chemistry was never the same as last year,” Jennerich said.

Furthermore, Cameron’s withdrawal has become the final stroke in the Picasso painting that is Obee’s road map to the Olympics.

“It was surprising, it’s a different situation than last summer but I’m of the same mindset,” Obee said.

Cookson likens the dynamic in a two person boat to that of a figure skating pair, or a marriage.

“You can’t fault one person or another. It happens.”

Just Posted

Gwen Spencer Hethey with her uncle and mentor Major Frederick Richardson. (Courtesy of Greater Victoria Sports Hall of Fame)
‘She was a killer’: The Victoria woman who pioneered female sharpshooting

Gwen Spencer Hethey made military men ‘look like turkeys’ says her son

Anita Troop officially turns 100 on Sunday and cards are pouring in from around the world. (Courtesy Marina Miller)
Cards roll in from around the world for West Shore 100 year old

About 100 cards have come for the woman who turns 100 on Sunday

A cardboard man bearing Queen Elizabeth II’s royal cipher has been placed in a window at the Royal Theatre for at least several days. (Evert Lindquist/News Staff)
Mysterious cardboard figure appears in Victoria’s Royal Theatre window

The identity of the figure, which was moved there amid cleaning, remains unknown

Black Press file photo
RCMP seek suspect in Vancouver Island-wide crime spree

Crimes stretched from Deep Bay to Qualicum, Ladysmith, Chemainus and Youbou

Jesse Roper tackles weeds in his garden to kick off the 2021 season of What’s In My Garden Man? (YouTube/Whats In My Garden)
VIDEO: Metchosin singer-songwriter Jesse Roper invites gardeners into his plot

What’s In My Garden, Man? kicks off with the poop on compost

A small pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins pass by close to shore in Campbell River June 16, 2021. Still capture from video courtesy of Kimberly Hart
VIDEO: Dolphin sunset captured from Vancouver Island shore

Spectacular setting for view of travelling pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins

Police are asking for public assistance in locating Anthony Graham who has been charged with the murders of Kamloops brothers Carlo and Erick Fryer. (RCMP photo)
2 charged, suspect at large in killings of B.C. brothers linked to gang activity: RCMP

Kamloops brothers Erick and Carlo Fryer were found deceased in May on a remote Okanagan road

Albert Health Minister Tyler Shandro and Alberta Premier Jason Kenney unveil an opening sign after speaking about the Open for Summer Plan and next steps in the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta 1st province in Canada to lift all COVID-19 public health restrictions

70.2% of eligible citizens 12 and older in the province have received a dose of the vaccine

Fraser Health registered nurse Ramn Manan draws a dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine into a syringe at a walk-up vaccination clinic at Bear Creek Park, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, May 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Honour our fathers’ with COVID-19 vaccine protection, B.C. urges

109 new cases Friday, 75 per cent of 12 and up immunized

Freighters have becomd abundant in the Trincomali Channel on the east side of Thetis Island.
Nanaimo ponders taking on waste from nearby anchored freighters

Vancouver-based Tymac petitioning the Regional District of Nanaimo to accept waste at its landfill

(Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
Trutch Avenue in Chilliwack to be renamed to remove racist taint

New name to have Indigenous significance as Chilliwack takes new step toward reconciliation

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is seen during a joint news conference following the EU-Canada Summit, in Brussels, Belgium, Tuesday June 15, 2021. Trudeau says Canada is on track now to have 68 million doses delivered by the end of July, which is more than enough to fully vaccinate all 33.2 million Canadians over the age of 12. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Vaccine deliveries enough to fully vaccinate all eligible Canadians by end of July

Three in four eligible Canadians now have their first dose, nearly one in five fully vaccinated.

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam listens to a question during a news conference, in Ottawa, Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021. The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases attributed to the highly contagious Delta variant grew in Canada this week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s public health agency reports spike in confirmed cases of Delta variant

More than 2,000 cases of the variant confirmed across all 10 provinces and in one territory

Most Read