Interviewer: How do you compare this to the result in Beijing?
Malcolm Howard: It was pretty special, especially after our heat, coming back from a race like that. We tried to run with the Germans in the heat, and we got burned. We went for it and we spun our wheels. That really hurt us. We got to come back together as a crew, both mentally and with our plan. Mike Spracklen was incredible. He refocused us, he got us back on track, he set a goal and he set a race plan. Doing something special like that, going through the high and low emotions that we have gone through in this regatta was amazing. I mean, the 48 hours after that heat was very difficult. I mean, we held our heads high and we stuck together, but we had to bear down. I'm very proud of these guys that we did that.
Howard: You know we brought the race plan back down to Earth for the rep, and we got a little closer, and then we executed really well in that final.
Interviewer: Malcolm, you've been with Mike for two Olympic cycles now and he's kind of a divisive figure, not everybody is a great fan of him. Is he, but the results kind of speak for themselves?
Howard: Well, you've read Ken Draughnet's book "The Game" right?
Interviewer: Yeah, yeah.
Howard: So he's got some great lines in there, he's describing Scotty Bowman right? And Mike is the Scotty Bowman of rowing. A lot of people don't like him and, you know, it's hard for him. But you can't argue with the results. You can't argue with what he produces. The man, no one thinks it more thoroughly, no one sits there and says the words like he does. They're hard words sometimes, no doubt about that. We've probably left some of those meetings after that heat, it was pretty hard on us, but those are the exact words that we needed to hear.
Interviewer: So in this race then you really just worried about yourself and not the Germans?
Howard: Well, we basically knew that if we tried to race off with the Germans, that we'd spin our wheels off the line again. We focused on those crews that were going to be next to us racing. We focused on pushing off Australia next to us first. Then once off Australia we tried to use the Dutch, once off the Dutch in the last 500 we started to gain seats on GB, and it just started to happen.
Interviewer: Is it possible to compare the satisfaction of this performance with four years ago?
Howard: Well, four years ago was a mission. It was laid out, everything. Everything by the book, on the plan. That's an incredible way to do it. Here, we didn't quite do it to plan. That heat was not according to plan, what happened there. Coming back from that heat and the way we did was amazing. Especially here in England, Mike Spracklen is British but he coaches the Canadians. It's amazing.
Interviewer: And will you be back?
Howard: Oh I can't answer a question like that right now. It's impossible to know.
Interviewer: Okay, well congratulations.
Ed Hewitt: So what are the particulars of a turnaround like that? For rowing wonk people as opposed to...
Howard: Well, the best way to talk about it is in terms of an eight. I think one of the most impressive things that Germany did was keeping nine - I know they switched it around a little - but nine guys together on the same page. We went 2007, 2008 winning the World Championships in '07 and winning the Olympics. They won every Worlds. That type of pressure and keeping the minds like that is very difficult because nine guys, to keep nine guys getting along, keeping the team together is very difficult. I think, for us, in that heat - our psychology after that heat was very difficult, very hard. Mike kind of saw what it was, broke it down and built it back up. To get nine guys back on the same page is incredible. I think there are very few coaches in the world that could do that. That could take nine guys after a heat like that, put us back together and send us out for a race like that.
Ed: Was there any thought about how in 2004, it was a favored boat, and they get into this gnarly heat and the wheels come off in the heat and then the rep. Did anyone sort of have like a flashback?
Howard: Well, you can't help but compare Athens a little bit to what happened in the heat. Of course, I compare more to the final. They had that happen to them in the final. We were lucky that happened to us in the heat and we had time to come back from it. A final to a heat, you can't really compare them, but our psychology was so low and we had to build back up for that rep. They asked me immediately after the heat to rate that on a scale of 1-10 of how horrible that heat was, and I told them I couldn't truly answer it. Truthfully now that heat was the best possible thing that could happen for us.
Ed: It was good luck.
Howard: Well, it set us on the right page and put us in the right direction.
Interviewer: Mike said that he told you all to fuck off after the heat.
Howard: I will let you quote him on that. I mean, yes, of course he's angry at us, but anyone who has ever been coached by Mike knows that every word that he says is calculated. Every word that he says has been thought about. You know, I was talking with, I believe its Miriam, from his women's squad from 2000. She said that, even knowing a lot of people don't like him he always has the right words to say. He always knows what to say. I mean, I've been in some unbelievable races with him, but in 2006 I raced here in the men's pair and we squeaked out a bronze medal. Incredible race, it was awesome. The first...he had us refocus so quickly after that race back on for the next year in 2007 for the World Championships. I mean he knew what to say to us, he knew how to get us going.
Interviewer: Does it concern you at all that he doesn't have an agreement going forward with Canada?
Howard: No. I think any country would be blessed to have Mike as a coach. I don't think he'll have any trouble.
Interviewer: Shouldn't Canada have him as a coach?
Howard: Oh yeah. I mean, like, of course they should. But here's the thing, right, like, I mean, he's a hard man to get along with. We love him, we support him, we back him. We support him but, like, he splits the team a little bit right? And that's unfortunate, and any sports organization should know he's the man. In Canada - everyone in Canada should be saying "he is the coach that we want."
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