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Barnabé Delarze & Roman Röösli | Swiss Olympics

Five years ago, Roman Röösli and Barnabé Delarze took to the starting line in Rio as half of a quad scull crew. Now they’re heading to a new starting line in a double scull and are at the peak of Swiss rowing. On spoke with both athletes about their dreams and goals shortly before they travelled to Tokyo.

 

When did you start dreaming about the Olympics?

 

Roman Röösli: When I started as a junior rower at 13. Back then, I didn’t think I’d ever be a professional athlete. That developed over time. My Olympic dream was similar. Only when I became part of the elite squad in my club did I begin to think that it didn’t have to just be a dream - it could be a goal.

 

Was it a goal or a dream back then? Or both?

 

Roman Röösli: You always dream about it, of course, even as a child. But you don’t think it can actually become a realistic goal to begin with.

 

Tokyo will be your second Olympic Games after Rio. Will things be different compared to last time?

 

Barnabé Delarze: Well, everything is completely different anyway because of the pandemic (laughs). But our experiences in Rio will undoubtedly help us in Tokyo. We know what to expect. So we’ll automatically focus more on the race, which will also be encouraged through all the measures in place on site.

 

 

How has the pandemic impacted your preparations?

 

Barnabé Delarze: In terms of sport, things haven’t really changed for us that much. Training sessions and training options have been similar to what they were pre-coronavirus. Of course, it feels different mentally as we had to stay with it for an extra year. But we used the additional time to try out new things.

 

Roman Röösli: There were, of course, fewer competitions in 2020 but, otherwise, it was a good summer for us. In 2021, all the regattas have either resumed or the postponed events have taken place.

 

And how has the pandemic impacted your goals?

 

Barnabé Delarze: In terms of sport, we’ve set our sights a little higher because of the extra year. In 2020, we wanted to reach the final and were hoping for a medal. Now we’re going to Tokyo to bring back a medal. With a bit of luck, maybe a gold - who knows?

 

Due to the pandemic restrictions, no Swiss fans will be there. Will you miss their support?

 

Roman Röösli: It’s definitely always cooler when our fans can be there. Full stands are always more fun – the more people supporting us, the more magical the atmosphere for us. But we rowers especially have lots of competitions where the crowds are manageable. And we’ve got used to that. But things are always better with Swiss fans there.

 

 

Even if there’s no direct comparison, are you better prepared for 2021 than 2020?

 

Roman Röösli: I think so, yeah. We’re definitely not less prepared. We’ve had an extra year and have been able to coordinate ourselves even better.

 

Barnabé Delarze: But, of course, all the other teams have had that too (laughs). The same teams that would have taken part in 2020 will be at the starting line. So I’m sure everyone’s tried to make the best of the situation. The average level is obviously going to be higher and better in 2021 than it would have been in 2020.

 

You’ve had to train for an extra year, mentally as well as physically, for the same dream. What motivates you each day?

 

Roman Röösli: It’s got to be the next goal in front of you that provides the most motivation. As professional athletes, you know that you can only achieve your goals when you stay on course. And that consistent training always increases your chances of making your dreams come true.

 

I also know before any training session that I’ll be proud of myself and my performance afterwards. That always motivates me. So it doesn’t matter how you feel before, you’ll feel better afterwards. I actually also believe that nobody can be 100% motivated every day. That’s also part of elite sport.

 

Barnabé Delarze: For me, it’s not the hard training sessions that need the most motivation. It’s the boring ones. The hard training sessions are great. They’re hard but you know and feel that you’ve got something out of it. And anything else is more about getting used to it than being motivated.

 

Is preparing for the Olympics different from preparing for other competitions?

 

Roman Röösli: Yes, the 4-year cycle of the Olympic Games is different to anything else in our sport. And we arrange everything else around it. The Olympics take place less frequently and qualification isn’t exactly simple either. Our training sessions and the year itself are set up the same as in a world championship year. But travelling to Japan, preparing there and acclimating is more intense and important than the preparations for any world or European championship.

 

 

Have you imagined what it would be like to have that dream come true and stand on the podium?

 

Roman Röösli: Of course, that’s our goal so we’re completely focused on that. We don’t just constantly think about that moment but it’s this image that motivates us.

 

And what if you bring back the gold? Do you have goals and dreams for after that?

 

Roman Röösli: So, if that really happens, we’ll just enjoy the moment and not think about the next goal right away.

 

Barnabé Delarze: But of course, if that does happen, it will have an impact on our careers. You can’t really get any better. For us rowers, there’s nothing bigger or more important than Olympic gold. So you can either stay the same level or get worse. Or you can change to a different boat class. That would be a new goal and a new dream for us.

 

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