Olympians

Al Morrow

From: London, Ontario

Stats (results):

  • 1992 - Gold - Women's coxless pair - Barcelona (coach)
  • 1992 - Gold - Women's coxless four - Barcelona (coach)
  • 1992 - Gold - Women's coxed eight - Barcelona (coach)
  • 1996 - Bronze - Women's quadruple sculls - Atlanta (coach)
  • 1996 - Silver - Women's eight - Atlanta (coach)
  • 1996 - Gold - Women's double scull - Atlanta (coach)
  • 2000 - Bronze - Women's coxed eight - Sydney (coach)
  • 2008 - Bronze - Women's lightweight double scull - Beijing (coach)

An honoured member of Canada Sports Hall of Fame, Al Morrow is a coach who is more than familiar with the Olympic Games. He represented Canada as an alternate at the 1976 Montreal Olympics, and has been the coach for the Canadian women's team since 1992, when he guided Canada's Women's team to three medals. In 1980, he was the trainer for the national women's rowing team and  guided his rowers to three Olympic medals in 1996 and another in 2000. In 1988, he moved to UWO to focus on women’s rowing and coached the team for sixteen years. Named coach of the year by the International Rowing Federation, his athletes have more than twenty-five world championship and Olympic medals combined.

What was your experience like at the 1976 Montreal Olympic games?

"I was an alternate on the team so it was a different experience. It was happy and really fun. It was really exciting because we were the host nation team and it was also my final year of rowing. It was a direct stepping-stone into coaching."

What has been your most memorable experience so far during your UWO career?

"I was a Western athlete for four years, on the rowing team. I was also on the water polo team for three out of the four years. I was also head coach of the women's team. Western was somewhere where my wife and I wanted our children to experience as athletes. The highlight of my career has been coaching at a world, national and Olympic level; my main employer is Rowing Canada and has been since 1978. My career at Western has been on more of a minor scale, I was a volunteer coach and it was my job to coach the coaches."

Why do you think it was so difficult for women to get into rowing?

"When I was rowing, there were no women rowing. The Olympics in 1976 were the beginning of an era for women in rowing. At the beginning, there were more facilities for men and women only had volunteer coaches. Since then, there has been a role reversal, more or less. Opportunities are now identical and are more merit based. It has become more of a women's sport."

What do you like most about coaching?

"I like the people side of it. There was a very famous basketball coach in Kansas who was asked what he thought about his athletes, he said, 'Come back and see me in twenty years and ask me if these people are good citizens'. It's all about watching people develop, fun memories, personal growth and opportunity for people to excel and to be healthy."

Al Morrow (left), courtesy of Rowing Canada Aviron.

 

Al Morrow, courtesy of Rowing Canada Aviron.