Aussie accidentally smashes world record
Aspiring Aussie Olympian Georgie Rowe had her dreams dashed when the Tokyo 2020 Olympics were called off this year - but she's making up for it in incredible fashion.
The 27-year-old's standard Saturday workout on a rowing machine inside her Sydney home is now emerging as the stuff of legend after she appears to have accidentally broken a world record.
The ABC reports Rowe, a world champion Aussie rower, who was pushing to be selected for her first Olympics this year before the Tokyo Games were delayed, is now the world record holder for the quickest half marathon ever recorded by a woman on an indoor rowing machine.
Rowe says she sat down on her Concept 2 rowing machine - widely regarded to be the machine that best simulates real-life rowing conditions - on Saturday morning just to "get some kilometres up" during her isolation training.
One hour and 19 minutes later - she pulled herself off the machine an accidental world record holder.
"To be honest, I just wanted to get some kilometres up for NSW in the interstate indoor regatta," she told the ABC.
"It was just a good way to do it - put on 21km, put some music on and just go for it."
Her Saturday session was part of Rowing Australia's training program to keep its elite athletes challenged after the national championships had been cancelled earlier this year because of travel restrictions put in place to slow the spread of coronavirus.
The plan to have Australia's best rowers go head to head in different challenges on rowing machines - instead of competing at the national championships - clearly provided the motivational boost coaches had been hoping for.
Rowe sat down to compete in the half marathon challenge of more than 21km - not even knowing what the world record was when she began.
She admits freely that her world record time of 1.19:28.40 was a pure accident.
Her freakish time shaved more than 40 seconds off the previous world record set by American Olympic champion Esther Lofgren.
The American gold-medallist had held the record for more than five years with a time of 1:20:12.10.
Her crown is now about to go to Rowe.
The only thing stopping Rowe being crowned the official world record holder is a technical hold-up from officials surrounding her decision to race over a longer distance than the mark officially recognised by Concept 2.
Rowe says she believed a half marathon to be 21,097.5m - and set her machine to 21,098m just to be safe.
Unfortunately, Concept 2's half marathon mark is 21,097m - and the technical glitch means the world record is yet to be officially rubber-stamped.
Rowe has confirmed she has been contacted by the record keepers - but isn't panicking that her record is yet to be made official.
"It's really cool and they are hard and I just love doing the machines," she said.
"Whether it is a world record or not, I just wanted to get the metres up for my state."
It is an incredible rise for an athlete who only began rowing seriously four years ago.
Having taken a liking to surfboat rowing, Rowe eventually turned her hand to indoor rowing competitions.
Her recorded times at some of the events were so freakish, she reportedly attracted interest from the head coach of the UTS Rowing Club.
It wasn't long before she had cracked the Australian national squad and went on to win gold with the Australian women's eight team at an annual World Rowing Cup, and silver at last year's World Rowing Championships in Austria.
She has done all this while balancing a full time job.
"It's not a fairytale; I've worked hard," she told theroar.com.au recently.
"Many times I have wanted to jump off a cliff because of the physical and mental exhaustion. Sometimes you just can't see the light at the end of the tunnel."
"It's a choice. Consistently rising to the occasion is exhausting. But it is the best day job I have ever had."
Her latest achievement follows that of American swimming freak Katie Ledecky, who also "accidentally" broke her own world record in 2015, smashing the quickest 1500m swim recorded by a woman - and she wasn't even trying.
Her time of 15mins 27.71secs broke her previous record by 0.65secs.
"I'm in quite a bit of shock right now,'' Ledecky said.
"I was barely even focusing on this morning's swim. I was so relaxed.
"It's probably one of the coolest world records I've broken.
"Each one is really unique, but just sort of how relaxed I was and how calm. I think breaking that record is just testament to the work I've put in and the shape I'm in right now.
"My coach told me to swim the first 900m easy, build over the next 300, then the final 300 was my choice and to be honest, it felt pretty easy.
"I wasn't kicking much and I think breaking the world record is testament to the hard work I have put in and the shape I am in right now. I am pretty shocked that I was able to do that."
Originally published as Aussie accidentally smashes world record