Next Stop Tokyo: Liam Corrigan

Tokyo 2020 Athlete Interviews

2 minute read
Words Tom Ransley
Published 02.07.21

Liam Corrigan, 23, from Old Lyme, Connecticut is set to make his Olympic debut at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. Selected in the US men’s eight, Corrigan’s first senior international event will be the Tokyo Olympics, but this hasn’t stopped the Harvard graduate dreaming big. He is intent on bringing back the Olympic gold medal. Currently training out of Oakland, California, under Head Coach Mike Teti, Liam Corrigan shares his thoughts.

What racing have you done this season, and how did it go?  We haven’t been able to travel to any external races because of Covid-19, so the Olympics will be our first international race of the season. That said, we’ve been doing a good amount of racing internally, which has been great. It has helped us hone our racing skills and it seems we have some solid speed.

When do you fly to Japan? At the moment we’re still in Oakland, California. We leave on the 7th of July for a training camp in Honolulu, Hawaii, to get acclimated to the heat and time zone. We leave from there to Tokyo on the 14th of July and arrive the next day. We’ll be going straight to the athlete village once we arrive in Japan.

When is your first row on the course? As I understand it, the first chance for any of the crews to row on the venue is the 18th of July, so I believe then.

Have you been to Japan before? I actually have been! My dad was working in Tokyo for about six months during my last year of high school, so we went and visited him during spring break. I was fortunate enough to be able to row on the 1964 Olympic course in Tokyo, so this will also be my second time rowing in Tokyo.

What are you hoping for? The target is to win the Olympics. That said, bringing home any kind of medal would be a result that I’m proud of.

How do you feel? I’m very excited. This will be my first Olympic games and my first senior world rowing event. We’ve been racing and training internally without any external racing for nearly two years now, so mainly I’m excited to take the eight down the course and find some real speed.

Who are the big players in your event? It seems like Germany and Great Britain are the crews to beat at the moment, although given how close the racing has been over the last two years it’s hard to rule any of the seven crews out.

What sessions are you doing now? We’re mostly on the water in the eight, as well as some land-based training on the erg and in the weight room. By way of acclimating to the heat, we’ve been doing a bit of hot yoga as a third session each day. It’s 115 degrees Fahrenheit in those sessions so hopefully that will prepare us for something.

Have you started to taper? Some of the very high-volume sessions have started to come down a bit, but we’re still getting good mileage in as well as doing the race pace pieces. The full taper will probably only start about one or two weeks out from our first race.

Do you like the taper? I’ve always liked the taper. I’ve never been one to enjoy super long aerobic sessions or just putting in hundreds of kilometres per week, so I always enjoy it when we’re able to dial the mileage back and focus in on racing.

How will you feel when you arrive? Fit and prepared. The week in Hawaii will prepare us for the time change and heat, and we’ll be in a very good spot physically given our training. Of course, I’ll be pretty excited to experience everything related to the Olympics, but I’m going to stay focused to keep any of that from being a distraction.

What Olympic sports will you follow? During the second half of the Olympics when I’m back in North America I’ll be watching the full Olympic coverage! I went to school [Harvard] with Gabby Thomas who is on the US Track Team. She’ll be representing the US in the 200-metres, so I’ll be cheering her on. I’ve always liked track and swimming, as well as the team sports like basketball and water polo. Other than that, I would love to meet some of the Team USA basketball guys, Devin Booker in particular who has had a great playoff run so far and is pretty inspiring.

What unusual item will you pack? My Yoga Toes. Basically, it’s a piece of rubber that is shaped to go in between your toes and stretch them out. I’m not sure they do anything, but they feel really nice. That’s not a paid endorsement, I just really like them.

The racing schedule is a little earlier than usual? How do you feel about that? As I understand it, most of the men’s eight races will be after 10 am, which by our standard isn’t too early at all. Generally, our practices start at 6:30 am which is still pretty reasonable. In any case, I’m prepared to race whenever the race happens to be.

What will you eat for breakfast on race day? Most likely oatmeal or cereal and maybe some toast and yogurt with some kind of juice or Gatorade. It depends on how early the race is, but I may have a granola bar or a banana closer to the race. Of course, it always depends on what’s available at the hotel or the athlete village in this case.

What keeps you entertained on camp? For the last couple of years I’ve had a job at an investment firm and that has kept me fairly busy outside of practices. I’m finished with that for now so as we build to the Olympics I will probably play online chess, online Go, and watch a lot of films.

When will you leave Tokyo? I leave Tokyo August 1st and I’ll fly direct to Canada to visit family. I don’t think I’ll be quarantining given that I’m vaccinated but it will depend on the travel guidelines at the time.