Twelve Questions with Erik Horrie

Athlete Interview

1 minute read
Words Tom Ransley
Photography Benedict Tufnell
Published 15.11.21

By winning a third consecutive silver medal in the PR1 men’s single scull at Tokyo 2020, the London 2012 and Rio 2016 veteran Erik Horrie, 42, made history. He is the first rower to win three Paralympic medals. The father of three, from Sydney, Australia has long chased gold but was quick to spot the silver lining in his post-race interview, “I guess my kids won’t be arguing who gets what medal. I’ve got the three kids and now there’s a silver each”. The Australian Paralympic legend and five-time world champion takes time out of his hectic schedule to answer twelve quick-fire questions.

What have you been up to since the Games? I’m already back in the boat but only a couple of days a week at the moment. After winning silver in Tokyo things have been a little bit different. Firstly, the whole Australian team had to fly home a couple of days later and spend the next fourteen days in hotel-quarantine. During that time I got to spend a fair amount of time on the ergo and I rowed about 450 kilometres in my hotel room. After fourteen days of quarantine I finally got to see my friends and family. We enjoyed a week together before I headed back into training. At the moment I’m mainly doing land training to try and mix things up a bit and slowly get back into it.

Photo Erik Horrie, AUS PR1 M1x cools himself off with a bag of ice at the Sea Forest Waterway in Tokyo 2020.
Credit Benedict Tufnell

What motivates you? I just love racing and meeting up with all my fellow competitors on and off the water from around the world. It’s great.

Best rowing spot? My favourite place to race would definitely be Lake Bled, Slovenia. That’s where I raced my very first world championships back in 2011 and it is where I won my first ever rowing medal [ASM1x bronze medal]. So, it is certainly a place very close to my heart.

Worst moment in your career? That would be in 2019 when a fellow competitor passed away during training at 2019 World Rowing Championships in Linz, Austria. I think that has been the hardest thing I had to go through in my rowing career.

Photo Erik Horrie AUS PR1 M1x at 2019 World Rowing Championships in Linz. Horrie wore a black armband in memory of fellow PR1 M1x competitor Dzmitry Ryshkevich, 33, from Belarus who drowned at the regatta, during a training session.
Credit World Rowing

Have you ever come close to quitting? Yes. It was after the 2015 World Rowing Championships in Aiguebelette, France. I got home and I was struggling mentally. I’d been battling with this for a long time and I was refusing to get help. It got to the stage where I lost everything. My relationship broke down and I was hospitalised. I spent a lot of time away from rowing and it was definitely on my mind about quitting rowing to try to fix my relationship with my partner and my kids.

Any scary moments? Touch wood I’ve not had any scary moments in the boat. Every time I get in the boat I love it. I’m away from my wheelchair, I’m on the water and I’m free. So whenever I’m rowing I just absolutely love it.

Biggest strength? It is a bit of weird question but for me its never giving up. To be honest with you I think that’s my biggest strength because I might be the smallest in my field but I believe in myself and I won’t give up on myself.

What are you working on? I’ve only just got back into the boat so I’m mostly working on my strength via the land based training. On the days that I am in the boat then it is basically about getting the kilometres in and enjoying the long paddles and the nice peaceful conditions you get in the single scull. So, I’d say right now I’m mainly focussing on enjoying the process and enjoying the sport.

If not a rower? That’s an easy one, I’d definitely say a triathlete. A long-course triathlete because it is something that I love doing now and I aspire to compete in Kona. If it wasn’t for the rowing I’d do it full-time.

What do you like to do when not rowing? Spend time with my partner, my kids and my dogs. We like to make the most of being together and by travelling overseas and making memories as a family and enjoying spending time together.

Do you have any unusual talents? I have absolutely no hidden talents. So, that’s a big no on that one.

What advice would give to those starting out? My advice would be to listen and don’t be afraid to ask questions, but the main thing I would say is to make sure you enjoy it – have fun and make the most of it.

Photo Erik Horrie, AUS PR1 M1x, on the water at Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games
Credit Benedict Tufnell