Thomas Keller Nominations: Erin Cafaro MacKenzie


Erin, congratulations on a well-deserved nomination. What was your immediate reaction?

Thank you!  I was beyond honoured and humbled to be among such great names in the sport.  The NZ Ever-Swindell twins are basically responsible for NZ Rowing becoming so popular and the powerhouse it is these days.  The UK nominee Greg Searle cemented his status as a legend when he came out of retirement and showed that age is not a barrier to performance.  We all know what Denmark’s Thomas has done for lightweight men’s rowing and, of course, my teammate, Caryn Davies who continues to collect medals and degrees around the world and add to the list of firsts for women rowers.  I actually felt a bit taken aback to be nominated because there are so many of my teammates that came before me who taught me everything I know and are just as deserving of this award.


There are four female candidates this year – how important is that for equality within the sport?

I think the equality and respect for women’s rowing is already there.  I never once felt during my career that Women’s Rowing was less important than Men’s Rowing.  The level of competition in the Women’s field I believe is still growing at a steep rate and we are just tapping into what is possible.  It would be more than appropriate if a woman received the Thomas Keller Award this year.


You’ve obviously won double Olympic gold, so how does this nomination rank alongside that?

I am one of the many American women with the great honour of winning two gold medals (hopefully more will be added to that bucket this summer!). But I think what this nomination is signifying is the ability of athletes of all shapes and sizes to succeed in this sport.  Rowing is classically known as a sport of levers and I helped to show that it is also a sport of power and skill.  They say it’s harder to go fast when you are shorter but I wouldn’t know any different nor would I want to change the genetics my lovely parents gave me.  Understanding that size is not a limitation to success in this sport is huge.


How are you currently involved in the sport?

I currently do one on one consultations with rowers all around the world and am also working on creating a programming hub and educational resource for rowers to understand more about how adding functional movement, strength and intelligent recovery practices can not only make you go faster but also ward off some of the most common injuries we see in rowing today.  Within the next year we also hope to have a Rowing Performance Seminar where coaches and athletes can come and learn more about practical applications of the movements in strength and conditioning as a diagnostic tool to supplement their training.  You will be able to find this all on


Photo credit

Tom Morgan

Previous editor of Row360, publisher of Junior Rowing News, freelance writer for the Daily Telegraph, the Huffington Post, Vital Football and others. Student at the University of Southampton.

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