April 30, 2012
Janine Hanson (2003-06) is no stranger to international rowing competition -- or the Olympic Games for that matter -- after competing in several high-profile competitions in her six years on the Canadian National Team, including the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Hanson and her teammates will look to build momentum from their back-to-back silver-medal performances at the 2010 and 2011 World Championships, the latter of which qualified Canada for the 2012 Olympics. They will take part in two World Cup events later this spring as their final preparation for London.
How has training for the London Games been going so far? What has your training routine been like?
We have 16 team practices each week, and I do an extra four on my own. It really is my full-time job. We row most of those practices but do some cross training and weightlifting too. With three training sessions most days, the rest of the time is spent preparing meals, eating, recovering and sleeping. I have had some personal bests this year testing on the rowing machine and in the weight room. I am pleased with the progress that I have made this year in all aspects of training.
Do you have a different approach to these Olympics than you did for the 2008 Games in China?
So many things are different this time around. In Beijing I was in the Quad, which is sculling -- four people, eight blades -- and now I am in the 8+ -- eight people, eight blades. That is a major change. We also have a new coach, John Keogh, that started with us in the summer of 2010. He has been a great addition to the program.
It was my first World Championships in 2007, so qualifying for the Olympics was a pretty amazing experience because it was all new. This time around, I have had many more international races and have learned so much about my own race preparation, recovery strategies and mental strength. The whole atmosphere at the training center is more focused and united than four years ago. It's a great energy to be a part of.
How does having that previous Olympic experience help you in preparing for this year's competition?
Learning to deal with all of the external distractions that surround the Olympic experience is a lesson in itself. It's exciting to get invited to different events and do interviews with the media, but there are so many opportunities that it is crucial to pick the ones that allow you to keep your focus on the main goal -- the races. I think with just being an older and wiser athlete, there are things that I do differently in my training and preparation for races that will help me this time around, for example recovering from daily sessions. These strategies will help me when it comes to the international races this year too.
After an eighth-place finish in 2008, what are the expectations for the Canadian team in London?
We were going into Beijing ranked fifth at the previous World Championships. The eighth-place -- of eight teams -- finish was really disappointing. One of my teammates had been injured the two months prior to the Games, and we really fell apart. This time around, we have been silver medalists at the 2010 and 2011 World Championships, so fighting for gold isn't out of the question. We will be racing at two of the World Cups this spring, so we will be able to test our preparation. The races are going to be very tight as there are a number of solid crews, but that will make for exciting races.
What's next for you after the 2012 Games?
My plan is to retire after these Games. I am looking forward to moving back to Winnipeg, Manitoba, after having lived and trained in London, Ontario, for over six years. I will have to start planning my wedding, which will be in February 2013. Finding a job is also high on the "to-do" list. I have a passion for working with kids living with autism, so I am hoping to find something in that field.