Benedict Tufnell

Q&A With Jeannine Gmelin

by Benedict Tufnell

A quick fire round with the Swiss reigning W1x World Champion and 2017 World Rowing Female Crew of the Year award winner Jeannine Gmelin.

Why rowing?

I am fascinated by the different elements that rowing combines. A mixture of technique, power, endurance and mental toughness. I like that it is a full body workout. Finding the balance between putting in a lot of effort and making it feel effortless at the same time is a challenge I enjoy too. And the fact that most of the training happens outside makes it the most beautiful sport for me. I am very much the outdoor/nature type.

Jeannine on the medal dock after her World Championship win in Sarasota 2017.

Your greatest moment in rowing?

That is a tough one. I have had so many great moments so far and to name only one is hard, but I would say the semi-final of the 2015 world championships. It was my first time qualifying for an A-final at a world championships, and I simultaneously qualified for the Rio Olympics; my biggest aim at the time.

Jeannine clipping in for training with the great Eight in Boston 2017.

And your worst?

A difficult question also; I try to see the worst moments as a necessity on the path to reaching your best. I see failure as a lesson or another challenge. Not being able to race is the hardest for me though. Withdrawing from any competition is always a heartbreaking moment.

Jeannine (fourth from right) with the HOCR winning Women’s Great Eight in Boston 2017.

Who do you most admire in the sport?

Simon Niepmann from the Swiss light- weight four. He is a true inspiration when it comes to doing what needs to be done and still having fun while doing it. Last autumn I was part of the Great 8+ at the HOCR and raced in the Philadelphia Gold Cup. I got to know some of the most successful single scullers in the world and I gained a lot of admiration for all of them, especially Damir Martin. He is down to earth, funny and how he dealt with having missed out on that gold medal in Rio is just incredible.

Jeannine and some of her mentors at the World Rowing Awards in London 2017 where she won female crew of the year.

Who do you admire outside of rowing?

My family, especially my Mum. She has been the best role model I could have hoped for in terms of work ethic, selflessness, unconditional love and has taught me to be grateful for the little things in life. My two brothers and my sister for being loyal and always having my back. I also admire everyone who has the guts to put their dreams on the line and work hard for them.

Jeannine on the Podium at the 2017 World Rowing Championships in Sarasota 2017.

Favourite sport to watch, other than rowing?
Cross fit, because of the diversity of the movements and the need to be an all-rounder. I tend to be captivated by sports that I know require a lot of hard training such as cross-country skiing or triathlon.

What do you do to relax?

I am a breakfast lover, so a good brunch with good company is my favourite. Some ice cream or a coffee can do the trick too. Of course being outside in the mountains or near a lake also helps.

What’s the best piece of advice you have been given for rowing?

Never stop questioning what you know and always be open to learning new things. 

See our full profile and cover story on Jeannine in issue 19 of Row360.

Photos ©Benedict Tufnell

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