Jürgen Gröbler leaves GB Rowing

Britain's most succesful Olympic coach walks away

2 minute read
Words Tom Ransley
Photography Benedict Tufnell
Published 21.08.20

Jürgen Gröbler OBE, the most successful coach in Olympic history has resigned as Chief Coach of the Great Britain (GB) Rowing Team. 

“I have had the most incredible experience with the GB Rowing Team working with fantastic British athletes for nearly three decades. This has been a hard and difficult decision but British Rowing has big plans for Paris 2024 and we want to organise it now to give the GB Rowing Team the best chance of success. I can’t commit for the next four years so I have resigned in order to let everything start now.”

Jürgen has dominated the international rowing scene for over forty years winning gold at every Olympic Games he attended since 1976. His medal run began with a bronze in the 1972 Munich Olympics as a junior coach for East Germany. He did not attend the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics owing to the East German boycott. 

Photo Grobler at GB Rowing HQ in Caversham, UK.
Credit Benedict Tufnell

After the collapse of the German Democratic Republic Jürgen took the Chief Coach position at Leander Club, where he began shaping the prodigious talents of Redgrave and Pinsent. The following year, in 1992, he became the Chief Coach of GB and set about orchestrating their prolonged assent of the world rankings. 

The 1996 Atlanta Games proved pivotal as rowing secured the only gold for GB by way of the men’s pair. At Rio his men’s team came back with thirteen Olympic gold medals across two boat classes. The men’s four held onto their fifth straight Olympic win while the men’s eight would prove to be Jürgen’s last Olympic victory.

Photo Grobler’s GBR M8+ winning gold at Rio in 2016
Credit Igor Meijer // World Rowing

His astounding medal haul and immense coaching prowess earnt him the Coach Award at BBC Sports Personality of the Year Awards in 2000 – the year Jürgen coached Sir Steve to a historic fifth Olympic gold at Sydney. In March 2006, Jürgen’s services to his adopted country were recognised in the New Year’s Honours List when he was awarded an OBE, The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire. In 2017 a further accolade was added in the form of a Lifetime Achievement Award at BT Sports Industry Awards. Despite the awards and continued success Jürgen’s competitive spirit remained razor sharp. 

With a less than a year until the Tokyo Olympics it will be an incredibly tough act to follow, made more challenging by the fact that Jürgen’s role covered both the men and women’s squads. With his legendary record still intact, he is able to step away and spend more time with his wife, Angela, and their family in Henley-on-Thames.