Winnipeg Olympian-turned-coach recognized by Rowing Canada for dedication to sport

A Winnipeg rower and two-time Olympian has some new hardware for her trophy case — this time as a coach.

Janine Stephens, who took home a silver medal as part of Canada’s women’s eights team at the London Olympic Games in 2012, was honoured with Rowing Canada’s President’s Award at a ceremony on the weekend. The award recognizes her commitment to the sport and her dedication to athletes in Manitoba.

“That was a huge surprise to get,” Stephens told 680 CJOB’s Sports Show.

“Rowing Canada gives out one surprise award a year that the president selects. It’s often a longtime member or veteran or coach, so for me to get it so early into my coaching career was an absolute shock and just an honour to follow in the footsteps of some of the other people who have received it.”

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Stephens, whose stellar career as an athlete also included medals at the world championships and numerous other high-profile competitions, transitioned to coaching Manitoba rowers in the lead-up to the 2017 Canada Games.

READ MORE: Winnipeg Rowing Club members shine at Henley Regatta

She never aspired to coach, she said, because she had technically never watched rowing — she’d always been in the boat herself.

“It was a challenging transition, going from being in the boat to watching and trying to pick up on things… the transition from being in the action to being outside,” Stephens said.

“It makes me think about what I would do differently, even on the rowing machine… what wording could I use to make it better for the athletes? I feel like I’m just constantly learning in terms of the vocabulary and the parts of the stroke.”

Stephens started rowing 20 years ago and said she’s happy to give back to a sport that opened so many doors for her throughout her career.

“Being able to go to university and row, and to be able to go to two Olympics and represent Canada and Winnipeg was always so amazing,” she said.

“Now being able to give back in a coaching role, I think it’s a really good encouragement that we’re starting to see some change here in Winnipeg — that we’re growing the programs, that our athletes are doing really well on the national stage.”

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Focus Manitoba: Former Olympian, Janine Stephens inspiring new generation of athletes
Focus Manitoba: Former Olympian, Janine Stephens inspiring new generation of athletes

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